Analytical paper on "The Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam"

Essay by Lord AnthraxUniversity, Master'sA+, February 1996

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The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam presents an interesting challenge to any reader trying to sort through its heavy symbolism and not-so-obvious theme. Not only does the poem provide us with a compelling surface story, but a second look at the text can reveal a rich collection of seperate meanings hidden in the poem's objective descriptions and sprawling narrative-which in the space of a few pages includes such disparate characters as the Moon, God, the Snake (and his traditional Christian neighborhood, Paradise), the 'Balm of Life', not to mention nearly every animal and sexual symbol the human mind can come up with.

Obviously, on one level, the poem can present itself in a fairly straightforward manner in the vein of CARPE DIEM. In the third stanza, the author writes, ''Open then the Door!/ You know how little while we have to stay,/ And, once departed, may return no more.' There's several refrains to this throughout the poem, first in the seventh stanza: 'Come, fill the cup.

. ./ The Bird of Time has but a little way/ To flutter-and the bird is on the Wing.' The entire ninth stanza describes the summer month 'that brings the Rose' taking 'Jamshyd and Kaikobad away', and so forth and so on ad nauseum. Again, in the fifty-third stanza: 'You gaze To-Day, while You are You-how then/ Tomorrow, You when shall be You no more?' The poet seems to be in an incredible hurry to get this life going before some cosmic deadline comes due, and more than willing to encourage any of the laiety he encounters in the course of the poem to do the same.

Another recurring motif throughout the poem is the time-honored act of downing a few drinks. It appears that either 'Wine', the 'Cup' or 'Bowl', and the 'Grape' touch...