Page:Quatrains of Omar Khayyam (tr. Whinfield, 1883).djvu/49

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INTRODUCTION.

xxv

death of his patron Nizám ul Mulk, Omar lost his stipend, and was reduced to poverty.

The satires probably owed their origin to the same cause. Rien soulage comnie la rhetorique, and if Omar could not relieve his feelings by open abuse of his persecutors, he made up for it by the bitterness of his verses. The bitterness of his strictures on them was no doubt fully equalled by the rancour of their attacks upon him.

The love-poems are samples of a class of compositions much commoner in later poets than in Omar. Most of them probably bear a mystical meaning, for I doubt if Omar was a person very susceptible of the tender passion. He speaks with appreciation of "tulip cheeks" and "cypress forms," but apparently recognises no attractions of a higher order in his fair friends.

The poems in praise of scenery again offer a strong contrast to modern treatment of the same theme. The only aspects of nature noticed by Omar are such as affect the senses agreeably—the bright flowers, the song of the nightingale, the grassy bank of the stream, and the shady garden associated in his mind with his convivial parties. The geographer translated by Sir W. Ouseley says of Nishapur, "The city is watered by a subterranean canal, which is conveyed to the fields and gardens, and there is a considerable stream that waters the city and the villages about it—this stream is named Saka. In all the province of Khorasan there is not any city larger than Nishapur, nor any blessed with a more pure and temperate air." No doubt it was some of these gardens that called forth Omar's encomiums.