The Rubaiyat – editions and illustrations

Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was enormously, and deservedly, popular from the 1880s through to at least the 1930s. It is a strange amalgam of mediaeval Arabic and mid-Victorian English poetry, however, not really a translation and never even pretending to be an exact one. Lowell put it rather nicely:

Lowell's epigraph for Harrap's edition of the RubaiyatThe reality is that Fitzgerald selected verses from a collection attributed to Khayyam, translating them very freely and arranging them thematically into a kind of meditation on fate; but many of the verses were later found to have been by other writers of Khayyam’s time or later.

The details are now well known and Wikipedia’s article on the Rubaiyat is uncommonly thorough, so I will leave it at that in favour of sharing some of the artwork in old published editions we have collected over the years.    Continue reading “The Rubaiyat – editions and illustrations”

Madness Lies Waiting

Madness Lies Waiting was conceived, many years ago, as a piece of performance art for a dozen speaking voices, preferably live performers on stage.

At the time (1970s)  I was dabbling in poetry (including graphic poetry) and graphic art while studying music composition, particularly the (then) avant-garde represented by Cage, Cardew, and the (then) new resources of electronic music.

Madness Lies Waiting drew on all of these influences. I stopped developing it when I was satisfied with it, which is the only way a creative person will acknowledge a work as ‘finished’, but its anomalous nature condemned it to remain unperformed.

Continue reading “Madness Lies Waiting”