Parodies of Fitzgerald’s Omar Khayyam #3: Of Omar Jr, a tobacco aficionado II

I was introducing you to a parody of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, as rendered by Edward Fitzgerald, supposedly written by Omar Khayyam Jr, who had moved to Borneo from Persia. How and why is explained here in the introduction, a veritable riot in itself. I began with a few passages and I would counsel you to be patient and read on as you wait for the transformed quatrains so you can enjoy them more…. I continue and assure you will get a taste of delights that follow within this…..

Although little is known of the life of Omar Khayyam the elder, the details of his private career are far more complete than those of his son, Omar Khayyam, Jr. In fact, many historians have been so careless as to have entirely omitted mention of the existence of such a person as the younger Omar. Comparative records of the two languages, however, show plainly how the mantle was handed from the Father to the Son, and how it became the commendable duty of the second generation to correct and improve upon the first.

Omar Khayyam died in the early part of the eleventh century, having sold his poems profitably, with the proceeds of which he established taverns throughout the length and breadth of Persia. Omar died in the height of his popularity, but shortly after his death the city of Naishapur became a temperance town. Even yet the younger Omar might have lived and sung at Naishapur had not a fanatical sect of Sufi women, taking advantage of the increasing respectability of the once jovial city, risen in a body against the house of Omar and literally razed it to the ground with the aid of hatchets, which were at that time the peculiar weapon of the sex and sect. It is said that the younger Omar, who was then a youth, was obliged to flee from the wrath of the Good Government Propagandists and to take abode in a distant city. For some time he wandered about Persia in a destitute condition, plying the hereditary trade of tent-maker, but at length poverty compelled him to quit his native country for good and to try his fortunes in a land so remote that the dissolute record of his parent could no longer hound him. Borneo was the island to which the poet fled, and here the historian finds him some years later prospering in the world’s goods and greatly reverenced by the inhabitants. Although Omar, Jr., was undoubtedly the greatest man that Borneo has yet produced, he must not be confused in the mind of the reader with the Wild Man of Borneo, who, although himself a poet, was a man of far less culture than the author of the present Rubaiyat.

While not a Good Templar, the younger Omar showed a commendable tendency toward reform. The sensitive Soul of the poet was ever cankered with the thought that his father’s jovial habits had put him in a false position, and that it was his filial duty to retrieve the family reputation. It was his life work to inculcate into the semi-barbaric minds of the people with whom he had taken abode the thought that the alcoholic pleasures of his father were false joys, and that (as sung in number VI), –

“There’s Comfort only in the Smoking Car.”

In Tobacco the son found a lasting and comparatively harmless substitute for the Wine, which, none can doubt, caused the elder Omar to complain so bitterly, –

“Indeed, the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my credit in Men’s eyes much wrong.”

Note the cheerfulness with which the Son answers the Father in a stanza which may be taken as a key to his Reformatory Philosophy,

“O foozied Poetasters, fogged with Wine,
Who to your Orgies bid the Muses Nine,
Go bid them then, but leave to me, the Tenth
Whose name is Nicotine, for she is mine!”

To be continued….


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