Omar Khayyam, a renowned Persian polymath, left a lasting impact on the fields of mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, and poetry. His birthplace was in Nishapur, which served as the original capital of the Seljuk Empire, and his scholarly pursuits took place during the rule of the Seljuk dynasty in the time around the First Crusade. The complete poems of Khayyam have been translated by Ali Salami.
As a mathematician, Khayyam’s contributions are most notably recognized for his classification and solution of cubic equations, where he presented geometric solutions through the intersection of conics. Additionally, Khayyam made significant contributions to the understanding of the parallel axiom.
In the field of astronomy, Khayyam’s remarkable precision and accuracy in calculating the duration of the solar year is noteworthy. He also designed the Jalali calendar, a solar calendar with a highly precise 33-year intercalation cycle that has served as the foundation for the Persian calendar, which has remained in use for almost a millennium.
The Quatrains of Omar Khayyam
Hark! From yonder tavern doth a cry arise,
“Rise up, brethren mad with revels’ guise!
Let us quaff wine and fill our measure high,
Ere the measure of our days doth come nigh.”
Who hath brought thee hither, drunk this night?
From behind the veil, who hath caused this sight?
To he who doth burn in thy absence like fire,
And tremble like hot air, who was’t, who was’t, my sire?
Aye, but a day we tarry in this world below,
And all our gains, but grief and woe we know.
Leaving life’s riddles unsolved, alas, we must,
Burdened with myriad regrets, return to dust.
Oh master! Grant but one request, I pray,
Speak not your preachings, wish us God-speed and stay;
‘Tis I who walk the righteous path, not thee,
Thou art but blind to truth, go hence and let me be!
Arise and come! Thy beauty, let it be
The balm that soothes my heart’s perplexity.
Fill up my cup with wine, that I may drink,
Ere fate hath made its jars from me, I think.
When I am gone, with wine my body bathe,
And sing a bacchanalian song to praise;
And if you need me on the Day of Doom,
Seek ye my grave beneath the tavern’s floor, in craze.
Since no one can assure you of tomorrow’s light,
Rejoice your heart today, and banish woe and blight!
With moonlit wine, fair moon, for heaven’s sake,
We’ll revel while we can, ere morrow’s dullness doth take.
Let lovers be consumed with madness and fire,
And all year long, with wine and wild desire.
For when I’m sober, all things seem amiss,
But in my cups, I cry, “Let fate and fortune kiss!”
In God’s good name, why do the wise pursue
This House of Lies, and bid their souls adieu?
For when they think to rest from earthly toil,
Death comes and bids them rise, from life’s mortal coil.
Men claim the Qur’an holds all heavenly lore,
Yet seldom do they study its pages more;
Instead, they fix their eyes on earthly things,
And drink the wine, while wisdom’s bell still rings.
Do not blame the drunkard, who loves his wine,
While building your life on a frail design;
You boast of abstinence, but still commit
A hundredfold more sins, in hypocrite’s wit.
Though fair to view, this form of mortal man,
Why has my Artisan, with heavenly span,
Set these tulip cheeks and cypress forms to grace,
The halls of earth’s divan, but for a fleeting space?