Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam


Ghiyath al-Din Abu'l-Fath Umar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami, better known as Omar Khayyam (1048–1131 AD), was a Persian Muslim mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and poet, whose interests also included music, mechanics, and geography. He was born and died in Nishapur, Iran, where he taught the philosophical theories of Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna, 980–1037), among other disciplines. Although Khayyam is known to later generations mainly as a poet, his work on algebra, mathematics, and calendar reform were of great importance. Khayyam is known for his rubaiyat (quatrains), which are two-line stanzas with two parts. The term “rubaiyat” is derived from the Arabic root of the word “four.” Shown here is a collection of Khayyam’s quatrains, the interpretation of which has been a contentious issue. While some see the work as a call to enjoy and celebrate life, others view it in a mystical context. Still others contend that it reinforces pessimism and nihilism. These interpretations have been greatly influenced by the varying translations of the collection. The exact number of Khayyam’s quatrains is unknown, as many are thought to have been added to the original collection by later poets. Still, some 1,200 to 2,000 quatrains have been attributed to Omar Khayyam.

Last updated: May 11, 2015