Friday, June 30, 2017

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Second Editiion, Quatrain CVII

This is the second of two linked quatrains, the previous being Quatrain CVI, with a similar theme.

Second Edition:  Quatrain CVII

Better, oh, better, cancel from the Scroll
Of Universe one luckless Human Soul,
    Than drop by drop enlarge the Flood that rolls
Hoarser with Anguish as the Ages Roll.

This quatrain does not appear in the Fifth Edition.  Perhaps, since its theme is the same as in the previous quatrain, FitzGerald decided it was repetitive and therefore unnecessary, and consequently dropped it by the time the Fifth Edition was published.

The theme is the same as in Quatrain CVI, and it is not found in the First Edition.  This idea, that it would be better that humans were not created, does not appear in the First Edition as best as I can remember, nor is there any reference to the pain and anguish of existence.  The First Edition was published in 1859 while the Second Edition appeared in 1868, nine years later.  Not knowing what happened to Edward FitzGerald in those nine years, I can't speculate whether the addition of this quatrain, filled with despair and pain, has any personal significance for him or just may be a translation of a quatrain that he didn't include in the First Edition and has no personal meaning for him.    

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