himmapaan (himmapaan) wrote,

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: The Illustrations

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!

Tags: artwork, edward fitzgerald, rubaiyat of omar khayyam, the folio society
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