Thursday, August 5, 2010

Omar Khayyam

I had heard of Omar Khayyam and knew him only as a poet, as someone who wrote a lot about wine and women. I was intrigued by this verse years back.

Ah, Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire!
Would not we shatter it to bits-and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

Recently I rediscovered Omar and found him fascinating. He was a polymath - oh what a beautiful word. Wikipedia says : A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. Leonardo Da Vinci, Rabindranath Tagore and Benjamin Franklin come to mind, thinking of polymaths.

Omar Khayyam was a mathematician, philosopher, astronomer and poet.ám What an interesting life he would have led, dabbling in such diverse areas. Reading the literal meaning of his quatrains and the translations by Fitzgerald I was struck by how it occurred to the translator to interpret the verses in such manner. Of course, any literary work would shine through only if read in original. Bengali, Urdu, Spanish ........Forget it, to read Kurunthogai and Kamba Ramayanam is in itself an herculean task - you need the help of Tamil Agarathi to make sense of literary Tamil.

1 comment:

Sachidanand Mohanty said...

Thomas Jefferson comes to mind as well ... thinking of polymaths.