Oct 24, 2022 • 5M


Word (Audio)

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Here’s a stanza of a poem that everybody in school used to be introduced to, and it may be the most famous stanza of all.  It’s an English translation of the Persian original:

A book of VERSES underneath the bough,
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness – 
That wilderness were paradise enow!

“Enow” means “enough,” and Edward Fitzgerald, the translator here of Omar Khayyam’s immortal Rubaiyat, probably heard some Englishmen in this or that district pronouncing it that way, just as in some dialects you said “thof” for “though.”  And really – is a SLOUGH a SLOW, rhyming with WOW, or a SLUFF? 
     But let’s think about what Omar says here.  He’s imagining a perfect afternoon: bread, wine, a shady tree away from other people, the woman he loves, her singing – and a book of VERSES, poetry.  He was writing almost a thousand years ago, and yet what he says here rings true to mankind – except for us, perhaps.  That is, we can imagine a Greek poet writi…

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