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The Poetry of TranslationFrom Chaucer & Petrarch to Homer & Logue$
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Matthew Reynolds

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605712.001.0001

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FitzGerald's Rubáiyát: ‘a Thing must live’

FitzGerald's Rubáiyát: ‘a Thing must live’

(p.268) 24 FitzGerald's Rubáiyát: ‘a Thing must live
The Poetry of Translation

Matthew Reynolds

Oxford University Press

In Pope, contrasting metaphors collaborated as guides to his translation; in Pound, an explicit metaphor of translation is, in practice, haunted by its opposite. FitzGerald associated various metaphors with his Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam: friendship with Omar, preservation of the ‘Oriental Idiom’ and: ‘at all Cost, a Thing must live.. Better a live Sparrow than a stuffed Eagle’. This last is the most inward with his practice as it is nourished by reflections in the original Persian as to how life might continue into different creatures, or even somehow persist in inanimate matter. Yet such ‘life’ is radically ambiguous: the Rubáiyát is a questioning text in which the categories that usually discipline translation dissolve—as do my own categories of metaphorical explanation.

Keywords:   Edward FitzGerald, Omar Khayyam, Rubáiyát, friendship, idiom, Bible, life, body, etymology, lip

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