Tag Archives: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

The Quarantine Quatrains:nature’s return in lockdown

Here is the section of my Quarantine Quatrains in which I reflect on the natural process of ‘rewilding’ that seems to have taken place around us during lockdown: the reports of dolphins in the canals of venice, photos of cayotes by SanFrancisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the wild goats in Llandudno, and closer to home the general awareness of how wildlife steps back into the spaces we have vacated. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the poem to which mine is responding, has a passage, intended to rebuke human vanity and ambition, which makes just the same observation about the ruins of a Sultan’s court, so that is the starting point for my verses, and in the second half of this section I speculate about what we could learn from this, if we were willing. You can find the full text of the whole poem here.

As always you can hear me read this section by clicking on the ‘Play’ button or the Roman numeral




They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshýd gloried and drank deep

But now in every corner of the world

The wild things flourish whilst the cities sleep


For when they see our influence abate

The banished creatures soon resume their state:

Blithe dolphins sport along the grand canal,

Coyotes call across the golden gate.


The grass grows green in every city square,

The little foxes, once so shy and rare,

Saunter our streets and boulevards by day

Whilst birds and insects throng the cleaner air


How soon the tide of nature has returned

How soon renew the forests that we burned

How soon they seed and repossess our streets,

Those precious plants and animals we spurned.


Perhaps in all this crisis, all this pain,

This reassessment of our loss and gain

Nature rebukes our brief authority

Yet offers us the chance to start again


And this time with a new humility,

With chastened awe, and mutual courtesy;

To re-accept the unearned gift of life

With gratitude, with joy and charity.


Perhaps we’ll learn to live without so much

To nurture and to cherish, not to clutch,

And, if I’m spared, I’ll hold the years I’m given

With gentler tenure and a lighter touch.


Filed under imagination, Poems

Quarantine Quatrains: a little celebration of wine

I recently posted the full text of my Quarantine Quatrains, a response to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,  but I said that I would also post some of the individual sections, for those who may not have leisure for the whole thing. And so, to cheer us up on yet another lock-down Monday I thought I’d share this little encomium and meditation on wine, in earnest of the day when we really can raise a glass together!

In the mean time, If you are enjoying these posts, you might like, on occasion,(though not every time of course!) to pop in and buy me a cup of coffee. Clicking on this banner will take you to a page where you can do so, if you wish.
Buy Me A Coffee

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the Roman numeral



I think of old Khayyam who ‘stood before

The tavern shouting open up the door’

And wish I might carouse the night with him

Alas that such carousals are no more


I’ll keep the rules my country has imposed

My life, like my small garden, is enclosed,

But still I’ll raise a glass and pledge my friends

Although, for us, the tavern door is closed


For in my cellar, ranged in dusty rows,

Are sleeping poets waiting to disclose

Deep memories of St. Emillion

Whose vineyards reach to where the Dordogne flows


And with these wines I travel where I please

From Rhineland to the lofty Pyrenees,

I saunter though the chateaus of the loire,

Drawing the cork on any one of these.


So with the poets let me praise the vine

And pledge my absent friends in vintage wine

Sensing, sometimes, the savour at my lips

Speaks of a love both human and divine.


And when I come to taste my life’s last drop,

When all that flowed in me comes to a stop,

Then let me see my saviour pledge his love,

Come close to me, and help me drink the cup.



Filed under Poems