Persia has existed many times from the Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC) to the ill-fated Pahlavi Dynasty in the 20th Century. Its rulers and people reveled in knowledge and beauty. While perusing through my grandmother's attic in Westbrook, Maine I found THE RUBYIAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM and THE PRINCE OF ISFAHAN.
Two weekends ago in the Hamptons the dinner conversation revolved around the pros and coms of the Iran Nuclear Treaty. Many of the guests were against the pact and I listened to the dinner table disparage the Persians as 'dirty sheepherders'.
I waited for a break in the host's harangue and recited this immortal quatrain,
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness - And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
"Do you know those verses?"
My host shook his head, but knowing me answered, "Probably some ayatollah."
"No, Omar Khayyam wrote than in the 11th Century. He was a mathematician and an astronomer as well as a Sufi poet plus was reputed to have been an assassin."
"Another terrorist." Billy liked simple terms in basic black and white. He was Irish like me.
"Maybe, but he also wrote this."
“Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all that youth will give you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
Billy lifted his glass to his wife and his friends.
My host stood. We were old friends. Everyone else raised their glasses.
"This moment is your life."
I drank my glass empty. There was another bottle on the table. Then another and another.
It is always good to be alive and all poetry is mathematics.
The pluses and the minuses.
ps the photo is from the Hollywood movie OMAR KHAYYAM starring Cornel Wilde as Omar and Debbie Pa