FitzGerald's <i>Rubáiyát</i>: ‘a Thing must <i>live</i>’

Matthew Reynolds

in The Poetry of Translation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199605712
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731617 | DOI:
FitzGerald's Rubáiyát: ‘a Thing must live’

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In Pope, contrasting metaphors collaborated as guides to his translation; in Pound, an explicit metaphor of translation is, in practice, haunted by its opposite. FitzGerald associated various metaphors with his Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam: friendship with Omar, preservation of the ‘Oriental Idiom’ and: ‘at all Cost, a Thing must live.. Better a live Sparrow than a stuffed Eagle’. This last is the most inward with his practice as it is nourished by reflections in the original Persian as to how life might continue into different creatures, or even somehow persist in inanimate matter. Yet such ‘life’ is radically ambiguous: the Rubáiyát is a questioning text in which the categories that usually discipline translation dissolve—as do my own categories of metaphorical explanation.

Keywords: Edward FitzGerald; Omar Khayyam; Rubáiyát; friendship; idiom; Bible; life; body; etymology; lip

Chapter.  8758 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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