Omar Khayyám, Part I

Song Cycle by Granville Ransome Bantock, Sir (1868 - 1946)

Word count: 1997

1. Wake! For the Sun who scatter'd into flight[sung text not yet checked]

Wake! For the Sun [who]1 scatter'd into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav'n, and strikes
The Sultán's Turret with a Shaft of Light.

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1 Headlam-Morley: "that"

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2. Before the phantom of False morning died[sung text not yet checked]

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?"

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3. And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before[sung text not yet checked]

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted -- "Open then the Door!
"You know how little while we have to stay,
"And, once departed, may return no more."

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4. Now the New Year reviving old Desires[sung text not yet checked]

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.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Già l'anno nuovo a voglie antiche dà vita", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Barbara Miller

5. Irám indeed is gone with all his Rose[sung text not yet checked]

Irám indeed is gone with all his Rose
And Jamshýd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows,
But still a Ruby [gushes from the Vine]1,
And many a Garden by the water blows.

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1 Lehmann: "kindles in the Vine"

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6. And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine[sung text not yet checked]

And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
High piping Péhlevi, with "Wine! Wine! Wine! 
"Red Wine!" -- the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That [yellow]1 Cheek of hers to incarnadine.

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1 Second edition (1868) and later: "sallow"; no other changes in later editions.

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7. Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring[sung text not yet checked]

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!

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8. Whether at Naishápúr or Babylon[sung text not yet checked]

Whether at Naishápúr 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.

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9. Each morn a thousand Roses brings, you say[sung text not yet checked]

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 Kaikobád away.

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10. Well, let it take them! What have we to do[sung text not yet checked]

Well, let it take them! What have we to do 
With Kaikobád the Great, or Kaikhosrú?
Let Zál and Rustum bluster as they will, 
Or Hátim call to Supper -- heed not you.

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11. With me along the strip of Herbage strown[sung text not yet checked]

With me along the strip of Herbage strown 
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultán is forgot --
And Peace to Máhmúd on his golden Throne!

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12. A Book of Verses underneath the Bough[sung text not yet checked]

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread -- and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness --
[Oh]1, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Un libro di poesie posato sotto un ramo", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Lehmann : "Ah"

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13. Some for the Glories of This World; and some[sung text not yet checked]

Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Promise go,
Nor heed the music of a distant Drum!

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14. Look to the blowing Rose about us -- "Lo[sung text not yet checked]

Look to the [blowing Rose]1 about us -- "Lo,
"Laughing," she says, "into the World I blow:
"At once the silken Tassel of my Purse 
"Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw."

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1 first edition: "Rose that blows".

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15. And those who husbanded the Golden Grain[sung text not yet checked]

[And]1 those who husbanded the Golden Grain,
And those who flung it to the Winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

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1 in the second edition, "For" ; "And" in all other editions.

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16. The worldly hope men set their Hearts upon[sung text not yet checked]

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]1 gone.

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1 Fitzgerald has "was" in the second and third editions.

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17. Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai[sung text not yet checked]

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai,
Whose [Portals]1 are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp,
Abode his [destined hour]2 and went his way.

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1 in the first edition alone: "Doorways"
2 in the first edition alone: "Hour or two"

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18. They say the Lion and the Lizard keep[sung text not yet checked]

They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshýd gloried and drank deep,
And Bahrám, that great Hunter, -- the wild Ass
Stamps o'er his Head, [but cannot break his sleep]1.

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1 in the first edition alone: "and he lies fast asleep"

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19. I sometimes think that never blows so red[sung text not yet checked]

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled,
That [every]1 Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in [her]2 lap from some once lovely head.

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1 Lehmann: "ev'ry"
2 first edition, Murray (probably): "its"

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20. And this delightful Herb, whose tender green[sung text not yet checked]

And this [delightful]1 Herb, whose [tender]2 green,
Fledges the [River's Lip]3 on which we lean --
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen.

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1 Houseley, Lehmann: "reviving"
2 Fitzgerald had "living" in the second edition.
3 Lehmann: "river-lip"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Johann Winkler

21. Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears[sung text not yet checked]

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

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22. For some we loved, the loveliest and the best[sung text not yet checked]

[For some]1 we [loved]2, the loveliest and [the]3 best 
That [from his Vintage rolling Time has prest]4,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before, 
And one by one crept silently to rest.

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1 first edition: "Lo! some"; Lehmann: "Lo, some"
2 Lehmann: "lov'd"
3 omitted in the first edition; also omitted by Lehmann.
4 first edition: "Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest"

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23. And we, that now make merry in the Room[sung text not yet checked]

And we, that now make merry in the Room
They left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom,
Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth
Descend, ourselves to make a Couch -- for whom?

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24. Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend[sung text not yet checked]

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and -- sans End!

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25. Alike for those who for TO-DAY prepare[sung text not yet checked]

Alike [for]1 those who for TO-DAY prepare,
And those that after [some]2 TO-MORROW stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
"Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There!"

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1 Harris: "are" ; further changes may exist not noted above.
2 in the first edition: "a"

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26. Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd[sung text not yet checked]

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 scatter'd, and their mouths are stopp'd with Dust.

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27. Myself when young did eagerly frequent[sung text not yet checked]

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by that same door as in I went.

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28. With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow[sung text not yet checked]

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own Hand [wrought to make it]1 grow,
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd --
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

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1 first edition: "labour'd it to"

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29. Into this Universe, and why not knowing[sung text not yet checked]

Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

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30. What, without asking, hither hurried Whence?[sung text not yet checked]

What, without asking, hither hurried Whence? 
And, without asking, Whither hurried hence!
Oh, many a Cup of this forbidden Wine 
Must drown the memory of that insolence!

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31. Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate[sung text not yet checked]

Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;
But not [the Knot of Human Death and Fate]1.

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1 second edition: "Master-Knot of Human Fate"

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32. There was the Door to which I found no Key[sung text not yet checked]

There was the Door to which I found no Key:
There was the Veil through which I could not see: 
Some little talk awhile of ME and THEE
There was -- and then no more of THEE and ME.

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33. Earth could not answer; nor the Seas that mourn[sung text not yet checked]

Earth could not answer; nor the Seas that mourn
In flowing Purple, of their Lord forlorn;
Nor Heav'n, with those eternal Signs reveal'd
And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn.

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34. Then of the THEE IN ME who works behind[sung text not yet checked]

Then of the THEE IN ME who works behind
The Veil, I lifted up my hands to find
A Lamp amid the Darkness; and I heard,
As from Without -- "THE ME WITHIN THEE BLIND!"

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35. Then to the Lip of this poor earthen Urn[sung text not yet checked]

Then to the Lip of this poor earthen Urn
I lean'd, the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur'd -- "While you live,
"Drink ! -- for, once dead, you never shall return."

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36. I think the Vessel, that with fugitive[sung text not yet checked]

I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answer'd, once did live,
And [merry-make; and the cold]1 Lip I kiss'd
How many Kisses might it take -- and give!

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1 second edition: "drink; and that impassive" ; third and fourth editions : "drink; and Ah! the passive"

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37. For I remember stopping by the way[sung text not yet checked]

For I remember stopping by the way
To watch a Potter thumping his wet Clay:
And with its all-obliterated Tongue
It murmur'd -- "Gently, Brother, gently, pray!"

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38. For has not such a Story from of Old[sung text not yet checked]

[For]1 has not such a Story from of Old
Down Man's successive generations roll'd
Of such a clod of saturated Earth
Cast by the Maker into Human mould?

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1 fourth edition: "And"

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39. And not a drop that from our Cups we throw[sung text not yet checked]

And not a drop that from our Cups we throw
On the parcht herbage but may steal below
To quench the fire of Anguish in some Eye
There hidden -- far beneath, and long ago.

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40. As then the Tulip for her morning sup[sung text not yet checked]

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.

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41. Perplext no more with Human or Divine[sung text not yet checked]

Perplext no more with Human or Divine, 
To-morrow's tangle to the winds resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of 
The Cypress-slender Minister of Wine.

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42. And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press[sung text not yet checked]

And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press, 
End in what All begins and ends in -- Yes;
Think then you are TO-DAY what YESTERDAY 
You were -- TO-MORROW you shall not be less.

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43. So when the Angel of the darker Drink[sung text not yet checked]

So when [the]1 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.

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1 Houseley, Lehmann: "that"

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44. Why, if the Soul can fling the Dust aside[sung text not yet checked]

[Why,]1 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 this clay carcase crippled to abide?

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1 Lehmann: "But"

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45. But that is but a Tent wherein may rest[sung text not yet checked]

But that is but a Tent wherein may rest
A sultan to the realm of Death addrest;
The Sultan rises, and the dark Ferrásh
Strikes, and prepares it for another guest.

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46. And fear not lest Existence closing your[sung text not yet checked]

And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account, [should lose, or know the type]1 no more;
The Eternal Sáki from [that]2 Bowl has pour'd 
Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.

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1 third edition: "and mine, should know the like"
2 third edition: "the"

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47. When you and I behind the veil are past[sung text not yet checked]

When you and I behind the veil are past
Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last --
Which of our Coming and Departure heeds
[As much as Ocean of a pebble-cast]1.

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1 third edition: "As the Sev'n Seas should heed a pebble-cast"

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48. A Moment's Halt -- a momentary taste[sung text not yet checked]

A Moment's Halt -- a momentary taste
Of BEING from the Well amid the Waste --
And LO! -- the phantom Caravan has reach'd
The NOTHING it set out from -- Oh, make haste!

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49. Would you that spangle of Existence spend[sung text not yet checked]

Would you that spangle of Existence spend
About THE SECRET -- quick about it, Friend!
A [Hair, they say,]1 divides the False and True --
And upon what, prithee, [does]2 Life depend?

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1 third and fourth editions: "Hair perhaps"
2 fourth edition: "may"

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50. A Hair, they say, divides the False and True[sung text not yet checked]

A Hair, they say, divides the False and True;
Yes; and a single Alif were the clue,
Could you but find it, to the Treasure-house,
And peradventure to THE MASTER too;

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51. Whose secret Presence, through Creation's veins[sung text not yet checked]

Whose secret Presence, through Creation's veins
Running, Quicksilver-like eludes your pains:
Taking all shapes from Máh to Máhi; and 
They change and perish all -- but He remains;

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52. A moment guess'd -- then back behind the Fold[sung text not yet checked]

A moment guess'd -- then back behind the Fold
Immerst of Darkness round the Drama roll'd
Which, for the Pastime of Eternity,
He does Himself contrive, enact, behold.

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53. But if in vain, down on the stubborn floor[sung text not yet checked]

But if in vain, down on the stubborn floor
Of Earth, and up to Heav'n's unopening Door,
You gaze To-day, while You are You -- how then
To-morrow, [when You]1 shall be You no more

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1 second and third editions: "You when" (?)

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54. Waste not your hour, nor in the vain pursuit[sung text not yet checked]

Waste not your [hour, nor in the vain pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute;
Better be [jocund]1 with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.]2

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1 second edition: "merry"
2 Lehmann, number 16: "hour!" (and the rest omitted)

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55. You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse[sung text not yet checked]

You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse
I made a Second Marriage in my house;
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

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56. For "IS" and IS-NOT though with Rule and Line[sung text not yet checked]

For "IS" and IS-NOT though with Rule and Line,
And "UP-AND-DOWN" [Without, I could define,
[I yet in all I only cared to know,]1 
Was never deep in anything but -- Wine.

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1 second, third, and fourth editions: "by Logic I define,/ Of all that one should care to fathom, I"

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57. Ah, but my Computations, People say[sung text not yet checked]

Ah, but my Computations, People say,
[Have squared the Year to human compass, eh?
If so, by]1 striking from the Calendar
Unborn To-morrow and dead Yesterday.

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1 third and fourth editions: "Reduced the Year to better reckoning? -- Nay,/ 'Twas only"

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58. And lately, by the Tavern Door agape[sung text not yet checked]

And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came [shining]1 through the Dusk an Angel Shape
Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it; and 'twas--the Grape!

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1 first edition: "stealing"

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59. The Grape that can with Logic absolute[sung text not yet checked]

The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The [sovereign]1 Alchemist that in a Trice
Life's leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

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1 first edition: "subtle"

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60. The mighty Mahmúd, Allah-breathing Lord[sung text not yet checked]

The mighty Mahmúd, Allah-breathing Lord,
That all the misbelieving and black Horde 
Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
Scatters before him with his whirlwind Sword.

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61. Why, be this Juice the growth of God, who dare[sung text not yet checked]

Why, be this Juice the growth of God, who dare
Blaspheme the twisted tendril as a Snare?
A Blessing, we should use it, should we not?
And if a Curse -- why, then, Who set it there?

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62. I must abjure the Balm of Life, I must[sung text not yet checked]

I must abjure the Balm of Life, I must, 
Scared by some After-reckoning ta'en on trust,
Or lured with Hope of some Diviner Drink, 
[When the frail Cup is]1 crumbled into Dust!

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1 third and fourth editions: "To fill the Cup -- when"

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63. Oh threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise![sung text not yet checked]

Oh threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise! 
One thing at least is certain -- This Life flies: 
One thing is certain and the rest is lies;
The Flower that once [is]1 blown for ever dies.

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1 Headlam-Morley: "has"

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64. Strange, is it not, that of the myriads who[sung text not yet checked]

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.

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