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1883 – 2023 A Celebration of Edward FitzGerald

October 29, 2022

Edward FitzGerald, the man, and the great poem the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that he gave to the world, have stimulated writings and reflections of many kinds over the past one hundred and fifty years.  Charles Mugleston has sent us a new reflection on these subjects, designed as a tribute to the 140th anniversary of FitzGerald’s death which falls next year.  His reflection draws attention to the many links that he sees with other spiritual and philosophical thinking, as well as some of the cross currents in FitzGerald’s own life.

Charles’ free flowing and thoughtful essay is too long to be presented in full here, and we show only the first few paragraphs.  If any reader is interested in seeing the full text, please contact Charles Mugleston on  Our thanks to Charles for sharing his reflection.

The Key to ‘Conundrum Castle…

Conundrum : A riddle ending with a pun offering bread from the field – food for thought

“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 e’NOW”

Quatrain 11

“The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,

But Right or Left, as strikes the Player goes;

And He that tossed Thee down into the Field,

He knows about it all – He knows – HE Knows! ”

Quatrain 50

“Truth is ever expressed in paradox” the Chinese MysticLao Tsze observed, likewise – Lightwise [sic] the Dutch artist M.C Escher wrote about his work “I speak a language few can understand…you have to retain a sense of wonder… that’s what it’s all about”. The Self-same paradox or ‘Wonder of Oneness’ rings true of Edward FitzGerald’s world famous multi-million selling poem the Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m speaking as it does in metaphor, at-once objectively as well as subjectively, of the extraordinary within the ordinary, hence difficulties are encountered by those who try to appreciate its insights with a logical, literal, fundamentalist outlook, miss the point and remain grounded – ground dead as the poem rather more than subtly implies. Yet, upon reflection its open secret generating its universal appeal invites, delights and unites those of faith and atheists / agnostics alike proving its inner worth, because Its “One Equal Light” [John Donne] speaks directly to Itself in and through us and that is what Noetic Poetic is all about… Remembrance / Resonance / Recognition / Regeneration.  The Mystic Mother Julian of Norwich saw “This Light is Love” and such influences can be seen in the creation of a deep and abiding friendship between our free thinking Suffolk Bard, and idea, image, sound & word smith of Woodbridge, Edward FitzGerald 31st March 1809 – 14th June 1883, and the family of yet another man of Genius, our Suffolk Bard George Crabbe born at Aldeburgh in 1754–1832 “nature’s sternest painter, yet the best” [Byron].

Yes, Like attracts Like because Light attracts Light… Genius Awakens Genius and so it happened that Edward (from the Old English Ead meaning Riches and Weard meaning Guard, hence Guardian of Riches…) Purcell was born at Bredfield Hall, now demolished, just north of Woodbridge, the family adopting his mother Mary’s maiden name of FitzGerald in 1818. He was baptised on the 7th May by, it is believed, the curate Revd Issac Clarke at Bredfield Church just along the road from The Castle village pub now a home.  Bredfield was where the poet Crabbe’s son, also George Crabbe, was installed as Rector in 1834 becoming one of the four ‘Woodbridge Wits’. His son, also Revd George Crabbe eventually came to be the Rector of Merton in Norfolk where Edward FitzGerald passed from this life into what the German poet Goethe observed on his deathbed as “Light, Light more Light”. Lightwise… Goethe’s Brother Freemason was Sir Walter Scott who, sharing several extracts of Crabbe’s poetry throughout his novels and having built a delightful letter writing relationship with him, though meeting him but twice, paid Crabbe the ultimate accolade of requesting his poetry be read to him during his final illness.

FitzGerald, not a Freemason, likewise admired Sir Walter Scott, his novels and poetry all his life, travelling up the coast in July 1874 by steamer to visit Abbottsford or ‘Conundrum Castle’ as Scott winkingly called his beloved home in Scotland. FitzGerald, who called Scott’s home his ‘Mecca’, likewise paid Crabbe and his descendents one of many soulful gestures by producing at his own expense ‘Readings in Crabbe : Tales of the Hall’ in 1879.

Another factor that may have drawn E.F.G to Scotland was that the four arm, two lined, one purpose Saltire Cross of St Andrew, Scotland’s ‘Essential Freedom’, forms the central symbol of the FitzGerald Family Coat of Arms, as seen on the family memorials in Boulge Church, ditto of the bookplate designed for E.F.G by his friend William Makepeace Thackeray, speaking of which…

For the continuation of this article, please contact Charles Mugleston (see above)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. javadfarzam permalink
    October 29, 2022 11:55 am

    For ever indebted to this great poet, Edwart Fitzgerald with his beautiful translation of Rubaiyat for making our beloved Omar Khayyam’s name worldwide name. Only wish there was an annual ceremony by his grave where his admirers would gather and celebrate

  2. Charles Mugleston permalink
    October 31, 2022 8:02 am

    Dear Sandra and Bill,

    Thank you once again for your kindness.

    Requests for the piece are trickling in from all over and am very grateful.

    It is a pity the electronic logic… has dismantled the two quatrains at the beginning, but never mind.

    Have a good week



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