Omar Khayyam: Ruba’iyat

One of my favourite Omar Khayyam ruba’iyats (quatrains) 
is No. XLIX in Edward Fitzgerald's translation.

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

However, Fitzgerald’s translation of this quatrain is a very free translation, as are some subsequent renderings by Brodie, Whinfield and Talbot.

Life's basic Facts this Chess Match parallel:
Some merely Pawns, yet others Kingly; yea,
Both transient indeed, yes, and anon
Both vanquished or dethroned and hid away.

We are but chessmen, destined, it is plain,
That great chess-player, Heaven, to entertain;
It moves us on life's chess-board to and fro,
And then in death's dark box shuts up again.

To speak plain language, parable to shame,
We are the pieces, Heaven plays the game:
A childish game upon the board of Life,
Then back into the Box from whence we came.

Avery & Heath-Stubbs give a more literal translation:
This is an old inn whose name is “The World”,
It is the piebald resthouse of night and day:
It is the banquet of the left-overs of a hundred Jamshids.
The grave which is the bed-chamber of a hundred Bahrams.

Jamshid was a legendary Persian king.
Bahram was the historical Bahram V (A.D.  420-438).

Another interesting translation of theirs is a ruba’i (quatrain) not found in Fitzgerald.

If I’m drunk on forbidden wine, so I am!
And if I’m an unbeliever, a pagan or idolater, so I am !
Every sect has its own suspicion of me,
I myself am just what I am

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