Setting of nine verses (The Book of Pots) of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám for baritone and piano. Presented as an exercise for B.Mus.

I still wonder at the audacity of Omar Khayyám to compare God with a potter, and one who made mistakes! And to ask “Did God create us or we him?": Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot? But most of all I love his love of life – and wine!

Kuza Nama

Listen again. One evening at the Close
Of Ramazan, ere the better Moon arose,
In that old Potter’s Shop I stood alone
With the clay Population round in Rows.

And, strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot
Some could articulate, while others not:
And suddenly one more impatient cried—
«Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?»

Then said another—«Surely not in vain
My substance from the common Earth was ta’en,
That he who subtly wrought me into Shape
Should stamp me back to common Earth again.»

Another said—«Why, ne’er a peevish Boy,
Would break the Bowl from which he drank in Joy;
Shall He that made the Vessel in pure Love
And Fancy, in an after Rage destroy!»

None answer’d this; but after Silence spake
A vessel of a more ungainly Make:
«They sneer at me for leaning all awry;
What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?»

Said one—«Folks of a surly Tapster tell,
And daub his Visage with the smoke of Hell;
They talk of some strict Testing of us—Pish!
He’s a Good Fellow, and ‘twill all be well.»

Then said another with a long-drawn Sigh,
«My Clay with long oblivion is gone dry:
But, fill me with the old familiar Juice,
Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!»

So while the Vessels one by one were speaking,
One spied the little Crescent all were seeking:
And then they jogg’d each other, «Brother, Brother!
Hark to the Porter’s Shoulder-knot a creaking!»

Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And wash my Body whence the Life has died,
And in a Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt,
So bury me by some sweet Garden-side.

Edward FitzGerald Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, 1st Edition, verses 59 to 67

Omar Khayyam
Kuza Nama