I’ll nominate The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1048-1131).
The Rubaiyat is a collection of quatrains using an aaba rhyme scheme examining aspects of life from an Epicurean, Fatalistic, and Agnostic point of view.
By far the most famous English translation of these remarkable poems is that of Edward Fitzgerald, first published in 1859 and later expanded in four further editions. It would seem that Fitzgerald was attracted to the dark life-view of the Persian poet and this shows in the brilliance of the translation.
Davis in his introduction to the poem describes it as “the most famous verse translation ever made into English. . . . In the 1953 edition of The Oxford Book of Quotations there are 188 excerpts from the Rubaiyat (of which 59 are complete quatrains)--this is virtually two-thirds of the total work. Not even Shakespeare or the Authorized Version of the Bible are represented by such massive percentages.”
Here’s a sample of it:
“Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate.
And many knots unravell’d by the Road;
But not the Master-knot of Human Fate.”
"Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wine
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
the Flower that once has blown for ever dies."
There are other translations, of course. But the Fitzgerald translation is freely available in Project Gutenberg, Many Books, Feedbooks, Amazon, Kobo etc.
Last edited by fantasyfan; 11-02-2013 at 08:16 AM.