Liza Lehmann
Metzler & Co.
Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat (Fitzgerald's tr.), 1896


Wake! For the Sun, who scattr'd into flight
The Stars before him from the field of night,
Drives night along with them from Heav'n, and strikes
The Sultan's turret with a shaft of Light.

Before the phantom of false morning died
Methought a voice within the Tavern cried:
"When all the Temple is prepared within
Why nods the drowsy Worshipper outside?"

Recitative (Bass)
Now the new year reviving old Desires,
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the "White Hand of Moses" on the Bough
Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

Solo (Tenor)
Iram indeed is gone with all his Rose,
And Jamshyd's sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows,
But still a Ruby kindles in the Vine,
And many a Garden by the water blows.

Quartette (SATB)
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of repentance fling.
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly--and lo! the Bird is on the wing!

Solo (Bass)
Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

Contralto (Recitative)
Ah, not a drop that from our Cups we throw
For Earth to drink of, but may steal below,

To quench the fire of Anguish in some Eye
There hidden, far beneath, and long ago.

(Contralto Solo.)
I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled,
That ev'ry Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in her lap from some once lovely head.

And this reviving Herb, whose tender green,
Fledges the river-lip on which we lean,--
Ah--lean upon it lightly--for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen.

Duet (ST)
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Ah! Wilderness were Paradise enow!

(Bass Solo.)
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint and heard great argument--but evermore
Came out by that same door where in I went.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own Hand labour'd it to grow,
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd,
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the two Worlds so learnedly are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their words to scorn
Are scattr'd, and their mouths are stopp'd with Dust.

(Bass Recitative.)
Ah, make the most of what we may yet spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend!

(Contralto Solo.)
When you and I behind the Veil are past
Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last--

(Soprano Recitative.)

But if the Soul can fling the Dust aside
And naked on the air of Heaven ride,
Were't not a shame--were't not a shame for him
In his clay carcase crippled to abide?

(Soprano Solo.)
I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some secret of that after-life to spell,
And by-and-bye my Soul retun'd to me
And answer'd: I myself am Heav'n and Hell.

Heav'n but the vision of fulfilled Desire
And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire,
Cast on the Darkness into which ourselves,
So late emerged from, shall so soon expire.

(Tenor Solo.)
Alas! that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That youth's sweet-scented manuscripit should close
The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence and whither flown again who knows?--

(Contralto Solo.)
The worldly hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes, or it prospers; and anon
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty face,
Lighting a little hour or two--is gone.

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai.
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp,
Abode his destined hour and went his way.

Waste not your hour!

(Soprano Solo.)
Each morn a thousand Roses brings, you say;
Yes,--but where leaves the Rose of yesterday?--
And this first Summer month that brings the Rose,
Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away.

Quartette (SATB)
They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep,

And Bahram, that great Hunter,--the wild Ass
Stamps o'er his Head, but cannot break his sleep.

Lo, some we lov'd, the loveliest and best
That from his Vintage rolling time has prest,
Have drunk their Cup a round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest.

Strange, is it not, that of the myriads who
Before us pass'd the Door of Darkness through,
Not one returns to tell us of the Road
Which to discover we must travel too.

(Tenor Recitative.)
Ah, fill the Cup! What boots it to repeat
How time is slipping underneath our Feet.

Better be jocund with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter Fruit.

Ah, Love, could you and I with Fate conspire
To grasp the sorry Scheme of things entire,
Would we not shatter it to bits--and then
Remould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

(Tenor Solo.)
Ah, Moon of my Delight, that knows no wane,
The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again--
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me--in vain.

And when thyself with shining Foot shall pass
Among the Guests Star-scatter'd on the Grass,
And in thy joyous Errand reach the Spot
Where I made one--turn down an empty Glass!

(Bass Solo.)
As then the Tulip for her morning sup
Of Heav'nly Vintage from the Soil looks up,
Do you devoutly do the like, till Heav'n
To Earth invert you--like an empty Cup.

So when that Angel of the darker Drink,
At last shall find you by the river-brink,

And, offering his Cup, invite your Soul
Forth to your Lips to quaff--you shall not shrink.

Quartette (SATB)
Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose,
That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence and whither flown again, who knows?