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What is the meaning of "The moving finger writes; and having writ" from Rubaiyat of...

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iyaa | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:27 PM via web

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What is the meaning of "The moving finger writes; and having writ" from Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam?

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:33 PM (Answer #1)

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You need to include a couple words from the next line in order to complete the entire phrase and make sense of it. The full phrase should read, "The moving finger writes; and having writ, moves on." The complete quatrain containing the phrase is even more helpful in understanding its meaning.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

The "moving finger" is being used as a symbol for Fate or for Time. The point is that once the moment is past, it's gone. There's no way to recapture it, regardless of your prayers or cleverness or anything else. Once the "moving finger writes," time marches on and nothing will ever be able to change whatever happened during that instant in time. The incident is over and done, recorded and unchangeable.

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