Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám "Sold My Reputation For A Song"

Edward FitzGerald

"Sold My Reputation For A Song"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám expresses an epicurean view of life. The poet is primarily concerned with the brevity of life and the attempt to accomplish as much as possible during a short existence. He extols wine and rationalizes the drinking of wine: "A Blessing, we should use it, should we not?/ And if a Curse–why, then, Who set it there?" The Creator and the world of man are then depicted as the Potter and the Potter's house, where many vessels are discussing the meaning of existence. The vessels raise questions about the purpose of life, the Potter's error in making an imperfect vessel, and the possibility of a pot's being tossed "to Hell" for being "marred in making–. . ." The vessels rejoice, though, when the prospect of being filled with wine is near. The poet then says that even when he dies he wants to be buried near the garden so that his ashes "such a snare/ Of Vintage shall fling up into the Air" that any passer-by will "be overtaken unaware." Calling wine and wine-poetry his idols, the poet sadly admits:

Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my credit in this World much wrong,
Have drowned my Glory in a shallow Cup,
And sold my Reputation for a Song.