I have learnt yours off by heart and recitedeach one of them outside and inside my head
till the curves of skulls were shaped by their echoes
and spines altered to hold the words they said.
Your moving finger has crept down centuriestouched pawns and queens; and greater pens and keys;
and touched me too sitting in the darkness
with my hair rippling a little in the breeze.
Then there are those, whose delicate rubaiyatI forget, at least, can’t recall all their art
but they get mixed in with the mortar of life
and they are in the paving of the path.
And sometimes I’m caught quite unawaresas to what I read, whether it’s yours or theirs;
all verses appear to blend in at the source
into one great poem, echoing everywhere.
Has this or that been perfect, and originsmarked out mindfully as each thing begins?
and has it been spun to its logical end?
Endless questions remain scratched in the margins.
I have often found most answers in a verse,sometimes yours, and sometimes also the others’
and nothing so pleasing as a shred of silence,
a trapped morsel between the teeth of words;
and whether it rhymed or not, was left blankwhere I chewed slowly on the lines, where I drank
the verses up in one long breathless draught
lost in the wilderness, or in databanks -
in the end they just spelt out the same thingsthe dry desert, the dry data, the readings -
yours and theirs, wherever I happened to be,
my ends looped back and touched their first beginnings.
I have not written it down, I can’t explainhow another life, its separate bliss and pain
frisbees into mine without any distortion
thrown across centuries through just one quatrain
even when I have not been able to catchtheir exact sense, and there’s a mismatch
in the shapes of chasms in my life, and theirs,
they have still found a slot, a place to attach.
Like a pebble in a pool, that’s been thrownby some playful hand, famous or unknown
and the ripples show just once at the surface
but what remains at the bottom is that stone.
I have watched each ripple closely as it formedbut also sifted that mud-bed as it swarmed
with the pebbles and the frisbees that you’ve tossed,
and each of the starts and ends that you transformed.
Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat was the first "complete" book of poetry I read as a teen and totally fell in love, and decades later I still feel the same. The first part of my rubaiyat was posted earlier in May as a tribute on his birth anniversary. I expanded that today to share at dVerse, where the subject for the prompt is literary allusion.