Thursday, June 29, 2023

Rubaiyat of Jahan Malek Khatun


Four Rubaiyat

I feel so heartsick. Should my doctor hear,
He'll sigh and groan and want to interfere;
Come on now dearest, heal me, you know how
To make my doctor's headache disappear.

You wandered through my garden, naked and alone
(The roses blenched to see their beauty overthrown).
My cheeky love, your body is the Fount of Youth
(But in your silver breast your heart is like a stone).
I swore I'd never look at him again,
I'd be a Sufi, deaf to sin's temptations;
I saw my nature wouldn't stand for it--
From now on I renounce renunciations.
The roses have all gone; "Goodbye," we say; we must;
And I shall leave the busy world one day; I must.
My little room, my books, my love, my sips of wine--
All these are dear to me; they'll pass away; they must.  

-Jahan Malek Khatun (tr. Dick Davis)

These were among the rubaiyat that sent me back last week to reread the ones by Omar Khayyam and translated into English by Edward FitzGerald. They're by Jahan Malek Khatun (1324-1393, approximately). She was the niece of Abu Ishaq, the Injuid king of the area around Shiraz in what is now southwest Iran, at least until his overthrow in 1353.

The ruba'i is a four-line form that rhymes AABA. The third one quoted is thus technically not a ruba'i, and either Khatun or Dick Davis the translator is being a little slack. I didn't mind... 😉


  1. I had no idea what the word "rubaiyat" meant, and I did not realize it is the plural form of "ruba'i."

    1. I hadn't really thought about it until I read that Wikipedia article, but Frost's Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening are rubaiyat, too.