Omar Khayaam biography and peoetry

Omar Khayaam was one of the most controversial poets of his time and he is still considered as a “provocative” poet.

Omar Khayam was born at Naishapor in Khorasaan in the latter half of 11th century, and died in 1123 A.D. His Takhalus or poetical name “Khayaam” signifies a Tentmaker, and he is said to have at one time exercised that trade, this was before Nizam-ul-Mulk’s generosity raised him to independence. The very paragon of his age, Khuwaja Nizami of Samarqand, who was one of his pupils relates this following story: “ I often used to hold conversations with my teacher, Omar Khayaam; in a garden; and once he said to me: My tomb shall be in a spot, where the north wind may scatter roses over it. His tomb is located in a garden at Naishapur.

Khayaam is known for his Quatrains or cha’ar-baitee. He is said to be specially hated and dreaded by Sufis, he used to ridicule them and their practices. It is believed that Khayaam would encourage people to “drink grape-vine” and “merry”…He did not believe in life-after death or in any religion. The Islamic scholars called him a “Kafir” or nonbeliever.

However, as there is some traditional presumption and certainly the opinion of some learned men, in favor of Omar Khayaam being a Sufi and even something of a saint- those who please may so interpret his wine and cup-bearer. On the other hand, as there is far more historical certainty of his being a philosopher, of scientific insight, and ability far beyond that of the age and country he lived in. Other readers may be content to believe that, while the wine Omar Khayaam celebrates is simply the Juice of Grape, he bragged more than he drank of it, in very defiance perhaps of that spiritual wine which left its Votaries sunk in hypocrisy or disgust.

A sample of his poetry:

Ah Love! Could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits-and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s desire!