Parodies of Fitzgerald’s Omar Khayyam #1: A Disappointed Drinker (Continued)

I had begun telling you about some delightful parodies of  The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, as “translated” by Edward Fitzgerald, by many playful wits, all Americans for some strange reason, to reflect whatever they wanted to portray.

The first I laid out for you was “The Rubaiyat of Ohow Dryyam”, a brilliant and funny lament by a dedicated worshipper of Bacchus during the blight that descended on him and others of his congregation during the long spell of prohibition in America. This bemused aficionado of the stuff that cheers was J.L Duff, and he proved his virtuosity with the title he gave his delightful parody (For those who still can’t get it….. read the title quite slowly, and if needed, a number of times till you get it. Sorry but that is all I am allowed to tell you). It is these sparkling examples of wordplay that gives us – me at least – twenty thousand years of joy.

I shall also stretch a point and include some of the original verses, for those of you who do not recall them instantly, and more so for the greater section which I pity for being deprived enough for never having read the original, so you can better estimate the skill of our poet.

Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
TODAY of past Regrets and future Fears—
Tomorrow!—Why, Tomorrow I may be
In Canada or Scotland or Algiers!


Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears:
To-morrow—Why, To-morow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n thousand years.

Yes, make the most of what we still may spend;
The last Drop’s lingering Taste may yet transcend
Anticipation’s Bliss—though we are left
Sans Wine, Sans Song, Sans Singer, and—Sans End.

Alike for those who for the Drouth prepared
And those who, like myself, more poorly fared,
Fond Memory weaves Roseate Shrouds to dress
Departed Spirits we have loved—and shared.


Alike for those who for TO-DAY prepare,
And those that after some TO-MORROW stare,
A Muezzin from the TOWER of DARKNESS cries,
“Fools! Your Reward is neither Here nor There.”

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
The gilded Bar, and all my Lucre spent
For bottled Joyousness, but evermore
Came out less steadily than in I went.


Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same door where in I went.

The legal Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on—and neither Thirst nor Wit
Has lured it back to cancel half a line
To give a Man excuse for being lit.


The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

And Bill the Bootlegger—the Infidel!—
When He takes my last Cent for just a Smell
Of Hooch, I wonder what Bootleggers buy
One half so precious as the Stuff they sell.

Oh Bill, Who dost with White Mule and with Gin
Beset the Road I am to Wander in,
If I am garnered of the Law, wilt Thou,
All piously, Impute my Fall to Sin?

Yon rising Moon that looks for us again—
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane;
But, Oh, how oft before we have beheld
Six Moons arise—who now seek Two in vain.

And when Thyself at last shall come to trip
Down that dim Dock where Charon loads his Ship,
I’ll meet Thee on the other Wharf if Thou
Wilt promise to have Something on thy Hip.

And sadly that is the end of this work, but some more are on the way….


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