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Reply to Omar

December 28, 2013

Reply to OmarRecently I purchased a copy of a small book called Reply to Omar by Alfred Fox. Although I was not specifically interested in what Bob Forrest  calls ‘Omariana Eccentrica’, it was just his series of articles on this subject that I decided to spend a few dollars for what appears to be a very nice unpretentious volume.

There is a rather large number of interpretations, adaptations, re-translations or whatever you may call it, that comment on Omar’s philosophy or FitzGerald’s interpretation of it. This is another specimen, in which Alfred Fox declares that “Omar’s dark scepticism, agnosticism, and logical epicureanism, with which we may disagree, is made music of by the equally sad and hopeless Fitzgerald. His attractive and incomparable poetic setting (…) is a masterly expression of the hopelessness of life.” However, Khayyám’s stanzas exclude the promise of Eternal Life. Poor Omar saw no possibility of cure and turned to the wine jar, “to forget the mystery of life and death, cut himself loose from the Truth, and suffered the results of such folly”.

The stanzas by Alfred Fox are presented in the hope that “they may be of value in helping other hopeless souls, and in providing a healthier a and happier Christian challenge to the gloomy and godless philosophy of Omar”. The first of the twenty-two stanzas reads as follows:

Your Hand had written, ere You Went Your Way:
Imperishable Lines it left, to stay
As Entertainment for the Passing Few,
But not a True Believer’s Faith to sway.

As far as I know, this field of Omarianism is not very well explored, in contrast to the parody domain of the Rubáiyát, where we have some studies by Jos Biegstraaten and Annmarie Drury.

The booklet was published by S. John Bacon Publishing Company, Melbourne, Australia. No year is given, but some sources give 1957. It has a short introduction by Alfred Fox. My copy has a gift inscription by Fox, dated 1957. 22pp., landscape, 16mo.

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