By Omar Khayyam
And David’s lips are locket; but in divine
High-piping Pehlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine!” the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That sallow cheek of hers t’ incarnadine.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter–and the Bird is on the Wing.
Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.
Then to the lip of this poor earthen Urn
I lean’d, the Secret of my Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur’d–“While you live
Drink!–for, once dead, you never shall return.”
Perplext no more with Human or Divine,
To-morrow’s tangle to the winds resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of
The Cypress–slender Minister of Wine.
And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press
End in what All begins and ends in–Yes;
Think then you are To-day what Yesterday
You were–To-morrow You shall not be less.
So when that Angel of the darker
Drink At last shall find you by the river-brink,
And, offering his Cup, invite your
Soul Forth to your Lips to quaff–you shall not shrink.
For “Is” and “Is-not” though with Rule and Line
And “Up” and “Down” by Logic I define,
Of all that one should care to fathom,
Was never deep in anything but–Wine.
And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came shining through the Dusk an Angel Shape
Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it; and ’twas–the Grape! The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The sovereign Alchemist that in a trice
Life’s leaden metal into Gold transmute.