The Rubaiyat of Umar Khaiyam

Omar KHAYYÁM (1048 - 1131), translated by Frederick ('Baron Corvo') ROLFE (1860 - 1913) and Jean Baptiste NICOLAS (1814 - 1875)

In 1867 Jean Baptiste Nicolas (1814-1875), scholar and career diplomat, published the first major French translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. This version is in prose and the collection contains 464 verses.

In Nicolas’ view, Omar was no Epicurean reveler but rather a relentless spiritual seeker – his frequent allusions to wine and lovers are metaphors, expressive of a divine discontent that can only be resolved by union with a mystical beloved. However, most other translators and commentators regard Omar as a man who sampled and enjoyed both earthly and philosophical delights.

In 1903 Frederic Rolfe, the self styled “Baron Corvo”, published an English translation of Nicolas’ version. In the same year Robert Arnot published a collection of translations which also included an English version of Nicolas’ text. While both these translations are in prose, Rolfe’s version, with its heraldic and evocative verbiage, and its presentation of Omar as a more rounded personality than Nicolas’ etiolated mystic, can be considered, as with Fitzgerald’s celebrated translation, as an independent work of art. (Summary by Algy Pug)

Genre(s): Poetry

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 Verses 1 - 100 Algy Pug
00:34:55
Play 02 Verses 101 - 200 Algy Pug
00:32:00
Play 03 Verses 201 - 300 Algy Pug
00:34:30
Play 04 Verses 301 - 400 Algy Pug
00:33:51
Play 05 Verses 401 - 464 Algy Pug
00:22:07