Wednesday, March 25, 2009


A Persian poet and astronomer. Omar Khayyam was born in Nishapur, Khorassan around 1048, and died in 1123 or 1131. When offered wealth by a lifelong friend, he is noted to have declined the gift, answering: “The greatest boon you can confer on me is to let me live in a corner under the shadow of your fortune, to spread wide the advantages of science, and pray for your long life and prosperity. “ So he lived “busied in winning knowledge of every kind.”

His Takhallys, or poetical name, means “Tentmaker,” and he is noted one time to have exercised that trade. As an astronomer he was responsible for a revision of the Persian calendar and occupied and position of importance at the court of the Sultan Malik Shah at Merv. HE wrote a number of works on mathematics, in which one on algebra was translated by Woepeke (1851). It is, however, as the author of a collection of quatrains, called the Rubaiyar, that Omar Khayyam is more popularly known. These poems, isolated, impulsive, unrestrained, and characterized by rapid transitions from minstrelsy of love and grave argument to deadly fatalism and ribald tavern song, demonstrate an interesting development of Persian mysticism. As with the Song of Solomon, these poems are interpreted in literal context, as well as figuratively.

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