"The Bird of Life" ~
Omar Khayyam

(18 May 1048 – 4 December 1131)
precious life
The bird of life is singing on the bough

His two eternal notes of “I and Thou”

O! hearken well, for soon the song sings true
And, would we hear it, we must hear it now

The bird of life is singing in the sun
Short is his song, nor only just begun
A call, a trill, a rapture, then -- so soon!
A silence, and the song is done - - is done

Yea! What is man that deems himself divine?
Man is a flagon, and his soul the wine;
Man is a read, his soul the sound therein;
Man is the lantern, and his soul the shine

Would you be happy, hearken, then the way
Heed not TO-MORROW, heed not YESTERDAY
The magic words of life are HERE and NOW
O fools, that after some tomorrow stray

Were I a Sultan, say what greater bliss
Were I to summon to my side than this
Dear gleaming face, far brighter than the moon
O love! and this immortalizing kiss

To all of us the thought of heaven is dear
Why not be sure of it and make it here?
No doubt there is a heaven yonder too
But ’tis so far away - and you are near

Men talk of heaven- there is no heaven but here
Men talk of hell- there is no hell but here
Men of hereafters talk, and future lives
O love, there is no other life -- but here

Gay little moon, that hath not understood!
She claps her hands, and calls the red wine good
O careless and beloved, if she knew
This wine she fancies is my true heart’s blood

Girl, have you any thought what your eyes mean?
You must have stolen them from some dead queen
O little empty laughing soul that sings
And dances tell me- what do your eyes mean ?

And all this body of ivory and myrrh
O guard it with some little love and care
Know your own wonder, worship it with me
See how I fall before it, deep in prayer

Nor idle I who speak it, nor profane
This playful wisdom growing out of pain
How many midnights whitened into morn
before the seeker knew he sought in vain

You want to know the secret -- so did I
Low in the dust I sought it, and on high
Sought it in an aweful flights from star to star
The Sultan’s watchman of the starry sky

Up up, where Parween hooves stamped heaven’s floor
My soul went knocking at each starry door
Till on the silly top of heaven’s stair
Clear eyed I looked -- and laughed -- and climbed no more

Of all my seeking this is all my gain:
No agony of any mortal brain
Shall wrest the secret of the life of man;
The search had taught me that the search is vain

Yet sometimes on a sudden all seems clear-
Hush! hush! my soul, the secret draweth near;
Make silence ready for the speech divine-
If heaven should speak, and there be none to hear!

Yea, sometimes on the instance all seems plain,
The simple sun could tell us, or the rain
The world, caught dreaming with a look of heaven
Seems on a sudden tip-toe to explain

Like to a maid who exquisitely turns
A promising face to him who, waiting, burns
In hell to hear her answer -- so the world
Tricks all, and hints what no man ever learns

Look not above, there is no answer there
Pray not, for no one listens to your prayer
NEAR is as near to God as any FAR
And HERE is just the same deceit as THERE

But here are wine and beautiful young girls
Be wise and hide your sorrows in their curls
Dive as you will in life’s mysterious sea
You shall not bring us any better pearls

Allah, perchance, the secret word might spell
If Allah be, He keeps his secret well