The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61660   Message #1007397
Posted By: Jim Dixon
24-Aug-03 - 02:53 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: The Rubaiyat (Woody Guthrie)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Rubaiyat (Woody Guthrie)
McGrath: Thanks for that link. I have bookmarked it and intend to study it later.

After a bit of sleuthing, I figured out that Richard Brodie probably owns the site, although he doesn't explicitly say so. At first I though it belonged to some unknown person who just wanted to impartially compare several translations, one of which was by Brodie.

Anyway, Brodie's version isn't a translation; it's a stanza-by-stanza anagram of Fitzgerald's work!

By the way, Robert Graves and Omar Ali-Shah also collaborated on a translation from Khayyam's original verses. I believe Ali-Shah wrote a literal translation in English, and Graves, who couldn't read Persian, used that as his source for a poetic translation.

Graves also wrote the introduction to Idries Shah's book "The Sufis," which I highly recommend. Idries and Omar were brothers. I believe Graves and the Shahs regarded Khayyam as a Sufi teacher, and were mainly interested in interpreting his work as a mystical allegory.

According to this interpretation, then, the landlord would be a Sufi teacher or master, the drinker would be the student or disciple, the wine would be various Sufi meditation or attention-focusing techniques, and drunkenness might be--according to whether it is good or bad--either the intended state of spiritual enlightenment, or a temporary state on the way to enlightenment, or the unfortunate result of misusing those techniques. Of course, there might be other valid interpretations.

It's not clear to me whether Guthrie understood the poem this way, or, for that matter, whether Fitzgerald did.