Page:Quatrains of Omar Khayyam (tr. Whinfield, 1883).djvu/41

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INTRODUCTION.

xvii

Another cognate difficulty is this, that many of the quatrains ascribed to Omar are also attributed to other poets. I have marked a few of tliese in the notes, and doubtless, careful search would bring many more to light. It might be supposed that the character of the language employed would be sufficient to differentiate the work of Omar at any rate from that of poets writing two or three centuries after his time, but, as observed by Chodzko, the literary Persian of 800 years ago differs singularly little from that now in use. Again, if, as has been supposed, there were anything exceptional in Omar's poetry, it might be possible to identify it by internal evidence; but the fact is that all Persian poetry runs very much in grooves, and Omar's is no exception. The poetry of rebellion and revolt from orthodox opinions, which is supposed to be peculiar to him, may be traced in the works of his predecessor Avicenna, as well as in those of Afzul Káshi, and others of his successors. For these reasons I have not excluded any quatrains on account of their being ascribed to other writers as well as Omar. So long as I find fair MS. authority for such quatrains, I include them in the text, not because I am sure Omar wrote them, but because it is just as likely they were written by him as by the other claimants. Of course a text formed on these principles cannot be a very satisfactory one, but, on the other hand, it is useless for an editor to pretend to greater certainty than the case admits of.

The text has been framed from a comparison of the following authorities:—

b