Page:Quatrains of Omar Khayyam (tr. Whinfield, 1883).djvu/39

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INTRODUCTION.

xv

that saying, thinking that he spoke idly. Afterwards I came to Nishapur on many occasions and visited his tomb, and it was outside a garden, and the fruit trees reached out their branches over the wall of the garden, and had dropped their blossoms over his tomb, so that it was hidden beneath them."

II.

The great difficulty in the way of arriving at a satisfactory text of Omar's poems arises from the exceeding variety and discrepancy of the materials. We look in vain for anything approaching to a "Textus Receptus." What may be called the Lower Bengal family of MSS., represented by the Asiatic Society's MS., the two India Office MSS., and the Calcutta edition, do indeed offer a tolerably uniform text, but their claim to be the best representatives of the genuine text is overthrown by their want of agreement with the Persian and Oude MSS. The Persian MSS. do not even agree with one another, the Bodleian MS., which was written at Shiráz in 865 A.H., being altogether different from the MS. lithographed at Teheran and afterwards reprinted by M. Nicolas. The Oude, or Upper India MSS., again, to which belong the one lithographed at Lucknow, and probably also the Cambridge MS., include a very large number of quatrains not found elsewhere. The number of quatrains seems to increase in proportion to the modernness of the MS. Thus the old Bodleian MS. contains only 158, and the two Paris MSS. (which are both of the tenth century) only 175 and 213, while the modern Cambridge copy contains no less than 801. A