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As promised, here are all my illustrations for the Rubáiyát. Please be advised that this is an image-intensive post, and there's a considerable deal of text, too.

I personally think that a number of these are among my best work so far. I certainly worked very hard on them. I still don't have my copies of the book yet (I was still signing and numbering the last of the etchings last week). There are some production details such as the actual binding and the decorative borders which are best seen on/in the book itself, and as soon as I have my copies, I will photograph those.

A few notes regarding some of the illustrations:

Quatrains 7 and 9 were where I did a bit of informed 'cheating' and drew on Persian mythology in creating the illustrations. In quatrain 7 is my depiction of the Huma bird, a creature of fortune who bestows kingship and flies without ever coming to rest. In some variations of its legends, it is said, like the phoenix, to consume itself in flames and rise again. I felt that it might serve for the metaphorical 'bird of time' of the quatrain.

The illustration for quatrain 9 really properly illustrates just the third line, 'Let Rustam lay about him as he will', rather than interprets the sense of the quatrain as a whole; but it gave me the opportunity to depict the Persian hero, Rustam, from an episode of the Shahnameh in which he fights the dragon.

Quatrain 48 is the one illustration in which I have tried to depict 'old Khayyam', a decision which even now I'm still unsure about, as it presents rather a number of problems. Elsewhere in the poem, any mention of 'I' can be interpreted as a kind of 'everyman', but where Fitzgerald chose to use Khayyam's name, the wisest thing to have done might have been to omit any visual representation of him altogether, as it's in fact immaterial to the spirit of the quatrain and the poem as a whole. It is done, however, and if nothing else, I didn't repeat the motif again.

Binding Design
The scan of course loses the metallic appearance of the original. The colours are in fact gold, silver, and copper; rather than yellow, orange and white. The next picture is a photograph which shows this better.

Etching Drawing
The drawing before its translation into an etching, an original print of which is included in each copy of this book as part of the limitation of 1,000 copies.

Quatrain 11 (Frontispiece)
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Quatrain 1

AWAKE! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to flight;
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

Quatrain 7
Come fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentence fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly - and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

Quatrain 9
But come with old Khayyam, and leave the Lot
Of Kaikobad and Kaikhosru forgot:
Let Rustam lay about him as he will,
Or Haitim Tai cry Supper - heed them not.

Quatrain 16
Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his Hour or two, then went his way.

Quatrain 21
Lo! Some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or Two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.

Quatrain 25
Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust

Quatrain 29
Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water, willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

Quatrain 32
There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seem'd - and then no more of THEE and ME.

Quatrain 38
One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste -
The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing - oh, make haste!

Quatrain 42
And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape
Bearing a Vessel upon his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it, and 'twas - the Grape!

Quatrain 48
While the Rose blows along the River Brink,
With old Khayyam the Ruby Vintage drink;
And when the Angel with his darker Draught
Draws up to Thee - take that, and do not shrink.

Quatrain 52
And that inverted Bowl we call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die;
Lift not thy hands to It for help,
For It rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

Quatrain 59
Listen again. One Evening at the Close
Of Ramazan, ere the better Moon arose,
In that old Potter's Shop I stood alone
With the clay Population round in Rows.

Quatrain 70
Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before
I swore - but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.

Quatrain 74
Ah, Moon of my Delight who know'st no wane,
The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me - in vain!

The Folio Society's photograph of the book for their brochure.

Thank you if you've viewed and read everything.  Especially as when I had everything ready and was about to post, either LJ or my computer decided to misbehave and I lost everything and had to begin again!


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 5th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
Certainly Goble, Dulac and Rackham are gazing (lovingly from the afterlife,) and applauding in unison in recognition of a kindred spirit!

I have no words beyond "amazing".
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Dec. 5th, 2009 03:29 am (UTC)
Such an incredible gift, to let us see these! I knew I loved your lines and colors and intricate details, but these have such a feeling of vast open space, and so many amazing visions of sky and wind and dawn. Thank you for this.
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Dec. 5th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
Oh, these are *so* beautiful! The detail, the clothing, the way the fabric moves - just everything. Wonderful work.

What medium did you do the colored ones in? Watercolor?


Ugh, sorry you lost your LJ post, that's the worst!
Dec. 5th, 2009 07:23 am (UTC)
Oh goodness me... you have enthralled me quite,I gazed raptly in the fading light, on characters of fable and of dream - how beautiful the pictures seem...
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC)
Aw, it even solicited a response in verse! :D Thank you so much.
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Well, the alternative was "ooohgggaa.... shiiiny...."

Dec. 5th, 2009 11:38 am (UTC)
They are splendid. Do you have any other book projects in the works?

Edited at 2009-12-05 11:38 am (UTC)
(Screened comment)
Mar. 10th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
I haven't been able to access this link. Could you tell us something about the new project? Is it also for the Folio Society? I bought two copies of your Rubaiyat from them!
Mar. 11th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Ah, that entry is protected for friends, I'm afraid. I usually do that for works in progress to avoid leaks, so to speak. But I can tell you that I'm currently working on a novelty edition of Aladdin for Walker Books. :)

And thank you! Two copies, oh, my! May I ask how you managed to find me here? I'm just curious, simply. :)
Mar. 12th, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)
I typed some search words into Google, and the LiveJournal page was one of the links, and as it happens contained the images from your Rubaiyat edition. I asked about the new project so that I can ensure I have sufficient funds on hand to order a copy (or two!) immediately; you must know that your Rubaiyat sold out in about three weeks, which is a record for the Folio Society. I don't know if it was your intention, but you have captured the "coming-of-age" (late adolescence) demographic (it was then that I first encountered the work, along with many people I know) perfectly. Bravo!
Mar. 20th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for this late reply!

Ah, even this journal turned up in the searches, how interesting! I'm very touched that you think so well of my work that you were inspired to think ahead to future publications. Thank you, truly; and for your very kind words about the Rubáiyát too. I had heard that it sold out within about a month of its announcement; but if it was actually as quickly as three weeks, and a record for Folio too, then that is even more astonishing. I have not yet ceased to be amazed at all the things that ensued from this project. It means so very much to me.

Aladdin is a novelty children's book, so if ever you were interested in that, it should be much easier than the Rubáiyát to secure a copy or two, I think!

Dec. 5th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
So, so lovely. The dawn sky for Quatrain 38 is just enchanting, I especially love your skies. I love your use of colour, too, but the whole thing is just breathtaking.
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
Thank you so very much!
Dec. 5th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
Some of these made me gasp and gaw over their beauty!
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 5th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
thank you so much for sharing this beauty!!
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Dec. 6th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
So so astounding! This ranks up there with my favourite Rubaiyat illustrations by Rene Bull :"D
And thank you for taking the time to explain your sources and inspiration like the Huma bird!

urgh, why are computers so crappy, I am sorry you had to retype everything all over again!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 7th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!

It's quite a publishing phenomenon and something of a literary icon, the Rubáiyát, never having been out of print since its first publication. It's had 'waves' of popularity, of course - the 60s and 70s being one such recent period. :D

Hehe, you might grow tired or impatient after a while; I'm so painfully slow. You might also be startled now and again by mutters of self-reprimandment, complaints about uncooperative materials, and various other similar noises!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 7th, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC)
Haha! :D
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 10th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
These are so beautiful--I love the richness of the colors.
Dec. 11th, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Jan. 11th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
I don't know if I've commented on your stuff before, but this is truly amazing. It's so fantastic to see that proper illustration and art is not dead yet. I, too, was reminded of Rackham and the like. Every time I see your art I just sigh wistfully and I feel like my soul can rest in these pictures for a while. It's truly that sort of aesthetic experience that is a balm to the restless soul. Those rich colours and those crisp outlines and bold, fluid movements alone can feed me for ages. You, sir, are quite possibly not even real and/or human because your art is so perfect that it must have been created by someone or something out of a fairytale himself, but I am enjoying your work muchly:).
Jan. 12th, 2010 12:00 pm (UTC)
Utterly utterly beautiful! I love your illustrations!
Mar. 23rd, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)

Very glad you pointed me to this, another book I desire now. (I have a couple of vintage copies of this book somewhere I think. I am HORRIBLE for buying old books with pretty illustrations and amazing tooled covers and things, and then losing track of where exactly they are in my shelves.)
Jun. 25th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
Beauty to hold
I'm very fortunate in that I was one of the lucky 1,000 and my copy sits on my bookshelf looking very regal :)
Jul. 20th, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Beauty to hold
I'm so sorry for such a delayed reply, but thank you so much!
Aug. 28th, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
Discovering this blog was a wonderful happenstance. I have been exploring it for the second night now. The illustrations of Rubaiyat are breathtaking. What vibrancy of color, what graceful movement! There was comfort in the blue. Your work took me to a different time and place. Thank you.
Aug. 28th, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Wonderful!
Thank you so much for your very kind words.
Nov. 20th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
Excellent artwork !!
Truly outstanding artwork! What is the artist's name? Is the artist available to do illustrations for poetry? I write poetry and would like to collaborate with an artist.

- Bob Rich, in California, USA
E-mail: writingbob1@yahoo.com

* * *
Nov. 20th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
This is very beautiful work!
I am so inspired by this work. I do art myself of many types and in many ways. I appreciate this gift you have shared with the world.
Jan. 17th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
painter 11
I was just going through your site it is extremely well crafted, What i’m searching on the internet trying to find out the correct way to start this blog thing and your website happens to be really high quality.
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )



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