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

The conclusion -finally – to the introduction to The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Jr… and after this, the quatrains itself. Since most of this post is again taken up the introduction only, I will add the first quatrain for all you patient readers.

Quite in accordance with his policy of improving on his father’s rakish Muse was the frequent endorsement of the beautiful and harmless practice of kissing. The kiss is mentioned some forty-eight times in the present work, and in the nine hundred untranslated Rubaiyat, two hundred and ten more kisses occur, making a grand total of two hundred and fifty-eight Omaric kisses –

“Enough! – of Kisses can there be Enough?”

It may be truly said that the Father left the discovery of Woman to his Son, for nowhere in the Rubaiyat of Naishapur’s poet is full justice done to the charms of the fair. Even in his most ardent passages old Omar uttered no more than a eulogy to Friendship.

Where the philosophy of the elder Omar was bacchanalian and epicurean, that of the Son was tobacchanalian and eclectic, allowing excess only in moderation, as it were, and countenancing nothing more violent than poetic license. However, we are led to believe that the tastes of his time called for a certain mild sensuality as the gustatio to a feast of reason, and had Omar Khayyam lived in our own day he would doubtless have agreed with a reverend Erlington and Bosworth Professor in the University of Cambridge who boldly asserts that the literature redolent of nothing but the glories of asceticism “deserves the credit due to goodness of intention, and nothing else.”

Due doubtless to the preservative influence of smoke Omar Khayyam, Jr., was enabled to live to the hale age of one hundred and seven, and to go to an apotheosis fully worthy his greatness. Among the native chroniclers the quatrain (number XCI) –

“Then let the balmed Tobacco be my Sheath,
The ardent Weed above me and beneath,
And let me like a living Incense rise,
A Fifty-Cent Cigar between my Teeth,”

has been the source of much relentless debate. By some it is held that this stanza is prophetic in its nature, foreseeing the transcendent miracle of the poet’s death; by others it is as stoutly maintained that the poet in the above lines decreed that his work should be preserved and handed down to posterity in a wrapping of tobacco. The Editor is inclined to the belief that there is much truth in both opinions, for the parchment, when it came to hand, was stained and scented from its wrappings of Virginia and Perique; and the manner of the poet’s death marks Number XCI as another remarkable instance of the clairvoyance of the Muse. To quote from the quaint words of the native chronicler: –

“For while the Volcanic Singer was seated one day in the shade of a banyan tree, fresh cigars and abandoned stumps surrounding him like the little hills that climb the mountain, he nodded and fell asleep, still puffing lustily at a panatella, sweet and black. Now the poet’s beard was long and his sleep deep, and as the weed grew shorter with each ecstatic puff, the little brand of fire drew closer and closer to the beautiful hairy mantle that fell from the poet’s chin. That day the Island was wrapped in a light gauze of blue mist, an exotic smoke that was a blessing to the nostrils. It suffused the whole Island from end to end, and reminded the happy inhabitants of the Cigars of Nirvana, grown in some Plantation of the Blessed. When the smoke had passed and our heads were cleared of the narcotic fumes, we hastened to the spot where our good master had loved to sit; but there naught remained but a great heap of white ashes, sitting among the pipes and cigars that had inspired his song. Thus he died as he lived, an ardent smoker.”

                                         I

Avaunt, acerbid Brat of Death, that sours
The Milk of Life and blasts the nascent Flowers!
Back to your morbid, mouldering Cairns, and let
Me do my worrying in Office Hours!

To be continued…

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