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Medieval Sourcebook:
Omar Khayyam:
Profession of Faith, c. 1120


Ye, who seek for pious fame,
And that light should gild your name,
Be this duty ne'er forgot---
Love your neighbor---harm him not.
To Thee, Great Spirit, I appeal,
Who can'st the gates of truth unseal;
I follow none, nor ask the way
Of men who go, like me, astray;
They perish, but Thou canst not die,
But liv'st to all eternity.
Such is vain man's uncertain state,
A little makes him base or great;
One hand shall hold the Koran's scroll,
The other raise the sparkling bowl---
One saves, and one condemns the soul.

The temple I frequent is high,
A turkish-vaulted dome---the sky,
That spans the world with majesty.
Not quite a Muslim is my creed,
Nor quite a Giaour; my faith indeed
May startle some who hear me say,
I'd give my pilgrim staff away,
And sell my turban, for an hour
Of music in a fair one's bower.
I'd sell the rosary for wine,
Though holy names around it twine.
And prayers the pious make so long
Are turned by me to joyous song;
Or, if a prayer I should repeat,
It is at my beloved's feet.

They blame me that my words are clear;
Because I am not what I appear;
Nor do my acts my words belie---
At least, I shun hypocrisy.
It happened that but yesterday
I marked a potter beating clay.
The earth spoke out--- "Why dost thou strike?
Both thou and I are born alike;
Though some may sink and some may soar,
We all are earth, and nothing more."


Source.

From: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VIII: Medieval Persia, pp. 13-14 (Translated by E. H. Whinfield)

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, October 1998
halsall@fordham.edu