The Rubáiyát is a Persian form made of several quatrains. Its name derives from the Arabic plural of the word for “quatrain.” This, in turn, comes from the Arabic Rubá, meaning “four.”

This Persian form of poetry is an unlimited series of rhymed quatrains. In each quatrain, all lines rhyme except the third, leading to this pattern:

a – 2nd line rhymes with the first.
a – 4th line rhymes with the first and second


These are some of the favorite quatrains from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam translated by Edward Fitzgerald:

Wake! For the Sun who scattered into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heaven and Strikes
The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of Light.
[Stanza 1]

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
The Winter garment of Repentance fling;
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly – and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
[Stanza 7, 1st edition]

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
[Stanza 12]

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
[Stanza 71]

For more information see: Rubiyat


Rosie’s Book of Monster Love (a Rubáiyát for little ones)

On a page where monsters lurked,
Underpaid and overworked,
Unacknowledged, unasked-for,
Feeling useless, sad, and irked
There amongst the story’s snooty
Characters of empty beauty
Overvalued, charmless types
Moral character off-duty
Lived delightful little Rosie –
Chatty, she, and very nosey.
She transformed the monsters’ page,
Made it colorful and cozy,
Summoned monsters, large and small,
Left out not-a-one at all,
Made them tea and cakes to savor
Oh, those monsters had a ball!
Rosie held each monster tight,
Loved “so much,” and took delight
Being cuddle-loved by ogres
On the page devised for fright!
Rosie spread her arms out wide,
“All friends here!” she beamed with pride.
As each page turned eagerly,
Rosie’s love spread story-wide.
© Copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013
 (In honor of my just-turned-two granddaughter Sophie [aka “Rose” and “Rosie”].  When she loves a toy, she squeezes tight and says “SO much!  SOOOOO much!”  She also often spreads her arms wide as described in my poem, as if to pull all of us in the room into her arms, and exclaims, “All friends, here!”  while she just beams with delight.  We have no idea where she gets this stuff.  😉  The love of our lives, for sure!)



A lurking sense of animus
for one who once was amorous,
descends upon a heart so torn
leaving love less glamorous.

Surrendered heart left mangled
from a tethered heart so dangled,
a soul in distant shadows lives
in memories deeply tangled.

When eyes are closed one’s vision clears
and in the whistling wind one hears
the sounds of life harmonious,
although separated by the years.

The softness of her hand still lingers
in the tactile stroking of her fingers;
a touch to play inside your heart
like the song of celestial singers.

And in the West her body rests,
with hands held folded across her chest,
and perpetual night remains descended
clutched against her tranquil breast.

How can this love in memory lie
long after reasons for it dies?
Do souls get punished for misgivings
to assure that we the living cry?

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013


  1. Marie, this is such a fun poem! Your little Sophie sounds like such a cutie pie! She must get that “all friends here” attitude from you…cause who couldn’t become friends with you? 🙂

    Walt, this is absolutely beautiful! I love the way you write!

  2. Fleeting Moments

    In darkness, by the lamp’s pale light,
    I sit and wonder what to write;
    My mind has drawn a blank, and so
    I sigh and sit there, clothed in night.

    The clock ticks softly, moments slide
    Away, scarce noticed as my mind
    Has drawn a blank, and as I sit
    The minutes pass, the hours fly;

    Fleeting moments, gone for good, and
    Soft stored in sea and yellow sand,
    Earth’s hourglass of memories,
    In vast blue sky, and rolling land.

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

  3. Interesting post, thank you for sharing this. 🙂

    I read Rubaiyyat by Omar Kayyam, and I must say I like the Arabic version better than the English translation. One the problems of translating structured poem like Rubbaiyyat is the adherence to form that often hinders the meaning. The same thing applies to Rumi’s mathnawi. That is why his free poetry is much more popular than Mathnawi, and a lot of people are just taking from Mathnawi anyway, without necessarily paying much attention to the form being displayed.

    • Welcome, Subhan, and thank you so much for your input. I’m sure you’re absolutely correct about the adherence to form often hindering meaning when translated.

      I hope you will write one of your own for us here, or post one you have previously penned. You are more than welcome to join in!

      Again, thank you so much for your additional information!

      Marie Elena

  4. Meg… Just Delightful; I could almost see Maurice Sendak’s illustrations!! Grandchildren are just absolutely Precious!!!

    Walt… such beauty in your memories/words of your special person…!

  5. Walt’s first, because this is serious poetry: gorgeous, skilled, romantic and lovely – any more adjectives I can think of.

    Marie, yours is so sweet, and leaves a happy cozy feeling after reading it.

    I was given the Rubayat of Omar Kayam when I was about ten, and didn’t understand it, but treasured it for the beautiful binding and for the giver of the gift. I wish I still had it.

  6. Pingback: Winter Rubàiyàt | Vivinfrance's Blog

    • Here in WV we are “Four Seasons Country” and I am thankful to be here. I do get tired of winter near the end but I agree that it is an introspective time of the year, for me more so than any other time. It is a cocooning time for me.
      I love your thoughts on the seasons.


    Today I take my pen and try to write
    a Persian kind of poem that Omar liked
    to fiddle with when he would meditate
    in deepest thought the meaning of one’s life.

    I must admit my work can never rate
    beside the Rubaiyat that clinched his fate
    but still I take the risk and write some lines:
    iambically I stand up to the plate.

    Oh, dear readers, I hope you will be kind
    and not consider that I’ve lost my mind
    for thinking I can rattle off in verse
    what Omar wrote of women, song, and wine.

    I tried the rubaiyat––things could be worse.
    It’s not like I’m open to Omar’s curse.
    If I fail, dear friends, I did my best.
    At least I kept this relatively terse.


  8. I was caught off-guard when reading your rubaiyat examples. I taught this form at Mindful Poetry a couple years ago and understood the guidelines differently.

    Well, I looked the form up elsewhere to discover that your examples were as described! I had *always* thought rubaiyat was an interlocking poem like the terza rima. But that’s not always true as both of your examples demonstrate.

    Thanks for teaching me something new today, fellow poets!

    • I taught the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam for years with Asian Studies students who gave the form a try as well. The instructions we were to follow suggested that the final line must be “a fingernail to the heart”–a line that drives home the point of the other lines. It’s harder to do than it looks.

      • It amazes me to learn that two of you have taught this form. How exciting! Please do chime in with whatever knowledge/examples you have to offer. That’s what we are all about here — helping one another learn and grow.

        Marie Elena

  9. Walt, Marie, I read your poems and I was hooked on this form! I will return to read more later. the kids home today due to weather.


    The music of life’s fervent flow
    Is bittersweet; now swift, now slow
    The rise and fall of centuries
    Surging, to melt like streams of snow

    Hail, moment-tear, why do you rush
    To tune the sphere of midnight’s hush?
    I pause to hear your subtle sigh
    Sparkle on daybreak’s dew-drenched brush

    The virgin gleam of morning-spire
    Throbs, a requiem of new desire
    Replenishing our flagging vim
    In cadences from heaven’s choir

    Ah, agony of moment-mirth
    Of shadows spilling on dusk’s girth
    Where soon the dawn provokes the dark
    And splashes grace across the earth

    We lift our cups up, brave and high
    To taste life’s honey from the sky
    For soon its dripping melody
    Will sweep in languid lullaby

    The music of life’s second chance
    Inspires us to dream and dance
    Forsaking yesterday’s lament
    To revel in hope’s moment-glance

    Mercy and grace do not keep score
    Kissing our failures through Time’s door
    They tune their harps with renewed zest
    And beckon us to sing once more

      • Thank-you Claudsy. Between teaching my son Matt how to make donuts, (he thinks it’s a domestic miracle;) then discovering that one daughter may have chicken-pox, between trying to decide which college to choose for another daughter I was still determined to try this form, It intrigues me immensely and I find it quite evocative. It’s been challenging of late to stay connected, but lounging here in this garden tonight is such a reprieve from life’s heavier hours.

        • That is so true, Janet. I don’t envy you the turmoil and disruption in a domestic sense, but I understand the intrigue of this form. As I say to myself, “Try it, you might like it.” Good luck. I can hardly wait to see what you come up with.

      • Jane, thank-you so much. I was awed by the words of Omar, wooed by the words of Marie and dumb-struck by the words of Walt and through it all, inspired. I appreciate your affirmation.

  10. Pingback: Write a RUBÁIYÁT | Warm Up Poems

  11. I must admit to trepidation when I saw this prompt. You’re talking about one of my ever favorite poets here and his signature piece. But, I chose to face the dragon and do battle. Only you all can tell me whether I pulled it off or not.


    Cloud breezes carry your song
    To fill my heart with such strong
    Desires that secrets must be guarded
    From prying eyes that would think them wrong.

    Bird song pierces forest’s dark,
    Strengthening my yearning, a stark
    Reminder of how lonely life becomes
    When I cannot hold onto your vivid life spark.

    That I find life here with you bold
    Speaks to those who look and scold
    Me for taking myself from comforts new
    To squirrel myself away in virgin forest’s gold.

    Solitude within green hills console
    My spirit, trade joy for works long toll,
    Bending me, remolding me, refreshing me,
    Withdrawing only at day’s end, leaving me whole.

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  13. Cheers

    Chablis, merlot, and cabernet,
    And you beside me, come what may
    Riesling, pinot, and maybe cheeses
    Whatever pleases us, just stay.

    Sauvignon blanc, perhaps Champagnes,
    We’ll sample red and rose strains,
    Aperitif or dessert fare
    What wondrous choices tickle brains.

    On cushions lush, we’ll rest and splay
    And sleep entwined until the day
    Then we’ll take Advil—two or three—
    And pray the headache goes away.

  14. Grammar Lesson #17

    Misunderstood superlatives
    may feel like irksome relatives
    for tongues can’t handle EST’s
    on multi-syllabic adjectives.

    Add “most” to multiply abuse
    and soon you’ll hurt yourself to use
    “most beautifulest” to describe
    a swan as if it were a goose.

    Of course, comparatives can bleed
    just as superlatives; we plead
    “more knowledgeabler” as an ample
    example of words that won’t succeed.

    Why torture our descriptions so?
    Perhaps we want the world to know
    that positives are not enough
    compared to worlds of tell and show.

  15. Sweet Spring

    Indolent breezes gently waft perfume,
    eau de lilac, from mauve clusters of bloom
    that float on spring’s congenial currents
    like silk threads woven on a fairy loom

    I raise my windows and open the door
    as fierce neural pleasures tingle my core
    while breathing in great fragrant draughts of scent
    that rivals any famous sultry shore.

    Oh spring, spring, with sweet Syringa flower
    the dismal winter you over power
    in purple paroxysm you chide Jack Frost
    this undoubtedly your finest hour.

  16. Having a Little Fun

    We skip along a wide and shady street
    Make slapping noises with our sandaled feet
    We laugh and wave to people passing by
    It’s something we like often to repeat

    Pretending to fly high up in a plane
    Or zip along the ground in speeding train
    We honk our horns or make sounds like the wind
    Folks watching us might think we’ve gone insane

    We say the sky is green and grass is blue
    Or slosh about as if the street is goo
    Or grope around as if we cannot see
    The neighbors do make comments, quite a few

    At time we make our voices sound so low
    And then pretend we only can go slow
    We act like we’re one-hundred-twenty-three
    Or play we’re wearing snowshoes in the snow

    Imagination is a friend of ours
    Together, we have great super powers
    We can be just anything we want as
    We all perform and carry on for hours

  17. In the Rubaiyat, that fourth line of each quatrain really does zap the message home of that segment. That must mean that the first two lines set up a premise which the third line either illuminates or refutes and the final line stabs the message home (though usually seeing life as a training ground for learning love of the divine and seeing life as little more than a doorway). Anyway, here’s my attempt at writing final lines that “puncture”

    Fingernail to the Heart

    Carpe Diem inspires in every Spring
    a need to bloom, enlivening everything,
    but every cycle proves that beauty fleets
    and what we seize today is withering.

    A picture of ourselves when we were young
    smiling and lovely, honey on our tongue,
    reveals how little we knew of the cost
    of expectations, moments come unstrung.

    Life is untenable, tenacious, frail,
    a battered boundless ship facing a gale,
    and everything we think we know as true
    becomes a distant beacon doomed to fail.

    And yet, there’s worth in every beating heart
    that waits for morning, flirting with the dark;
    we seek salvation using our time well
    and long for Spring as buds bloom and depart.

  18. Picture of Self

    Looking in the glass I see
    Myself standing on a beach, the sea
    Pounding on the golden sand,
    The sea breeze slapping, clawing at me,

    The waves keening their mournful
    Dirge, forcing rocks to blend in painful
    Harmony; my face is turned
    Away from the dawn, set in scornful,

    Bitter sneer, my hands holding
    Tight to the thick blackness surrounding
    Me; I will not let it go,
    Cloak of darkness, around me wrapping.

    I watch myself standing there;
    A single tear falls, I cannot bear
    It. The dawn is coming! Turn!
    And still, proud and hard, I’m standing there.

    I watch in horror, and fear
    As the sun rises, a red sun, near;
    But, with ever tigh’ning grip,
    I keep the midnight there, dark and drear.

    Suddenly, the picture fades,
    I’m still sitting at the mirror, shades
    Of evening circling me;
    All is still, night approaches, dark parades.

    And I see, it dawns on me,
    What I had witnessed, me as surely
    I would be, if He hadn’t
    Called, saved me by His grace, forgiven me with His mercy.

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013


    I hold you all in high esteem
    while you are nestled in your dreams
    of peace on earth and sugarplums
    and chocolate butter crèmes.

    While I, here in this Northern place,
    this jolly, happy tranquil space,
    am matching names upon my list
    to each and every hopeful face.

    The busy little people here
    are always full of Christmas cheer,
    whistling Merry Christmas tunes
    365 days of the year.

    And Mama and the lady elves
    are restocking all the pantry shelves,
    ingredients for cookie baking,
    the very best (if they say so themselves).

    In the workshop, where I work with the boys,
    building and planning the hottest new toys.
    We’re getting the hype machine rolling quite quickly,
    to stir the excitement (without all the noise).

    I reflect for a moment, I know that I should
    get a second glimpse of the ones that are good,
    and keep a trained eye on the names that are naughty,
    and hope to reform them. I think that I could.

    Out near the stables where the reindeer by name,
    get themselves ready for the next reindeer games,
    a grand exhibition of brawn, might and flight,
    the very first leg on their journey to fame.

    In Caribou Corners (where the North Pole Stands),
    the townsfolk gear up for the season’s demands,
    the hustle and bustle here never escapes them,
    or falls from their warm mitten’d hands.

    Now the wind, it whistles through the pines,
    a familiar sound; it whirs and whines,
    keeping the temperatures quite cold
    for the icicles to shine.

    And me? I’m sitting in my chair,
    my mug of hot cocoa steaming there,
    with peaks of whipped cream, all snowy white,
    ‘tis a cup beyond all compare.

    It’s here that I like to take my pause
    to contemplate this Christmas cause,
    a mantle which I accept with pride
    for I am Santa Claus.

  20. City Trees

    Along each side-street, in a row
    Planted by those who did not know
    That roots dig deep and branches spread
    A tree needs plenty of room to grow.

    The trees have grown, some dwarfed, deformed
    Yet early on every cold spring morn
    Birds will rise to sing their songs
    praising the day that is newly born.

    Gently, a swishing summer breeze
    A leafy ripple passes to tease
    Away the pounding, afternoon sun
    And sets to dancing the highest leaves.

    “Widen the streets” the dreaded order comes
    from city hall and soon the chain-saws hum,
    toppling the trees – the streets are naked, bare…

    Fireplace smoke rises to greet the winter sun.

  21. Really like this form!

    High Atop

    Where towers of the mighty rose,
    inhabitants wore well made clothes,
    segregated from the hoi polloi, had
    breakfast in bed when they arose.

    How they partied, drank, and danced
    with never a backward glance,
    or fear that things could instantly change
    in the speakeasies they financed.

    Uneasy murmurs of dwindling cash
    where lives changed in flash,
    surely was not true, they said,
    until the papers proclaimed, CRASH!

  22. I started mine… was it yesterday, or the day before that…? Hmmm…. well, it is a difficult form for me…

  23. Running Away?

    I find myself needing to run
    Get out about and have some fun
    Just clear my mind, yes this will do
    Run free, hair flying in the sun…

    Then in a puddle go the shoes
    The sun is lost, the rain’s come due
    Now here I go with soaking feet
    And now I think my toes are blue.

    Despite that noise, yes now they squeak
    Loud up and down the trailing peak
    Still Love the freedom of a run
    Tho’ with that irksome sound, I creak.

    • I have felt this way before; the need to run away.I have not had the desire to actually “run” though. LOL I will just walk (fast) away. This gave me a smile thinking of the creak. I definitely relate to that.

      • !! 😀 !! Thank you, Judy, hee, hee, yes, always my first inclination is to “move away quick” when my mind gets outa sorts — thank goodness that I Love to run!!

  24. Rubaiyat

    If I were to write a rubaiyat
    what would be my first thought?
    I’ve never heard of this form before,
    certainly I was never taught.

    I’d sit down right here, right now
    tell myself – no fear,
    write to the form, then rearrange,
    that’s right, now get it in gear!

  25. Rubaiyat Morn

    The morning sun invades like wing`ed gull;
    white, fluttered light will mutter mid the lull.
    Against my wall and blinking at the light_
    my eyes; my lashes stuttering to full.

    My yawn is cavernous and widely spent;
    it breaks this solemn scene of sunlit tint.
    So groaning in my bones, I twist and stretch;
    my feet now firmly hit the floor thus rent.

    Oh, hopeless is that death not soon to come!
    Ah, here it is; another gleaming sun!
    Another day thus won to work within;
    Enlightened is this morn that’s now begun.

    Awake! and grab the shades of life before
    her sun, so high it races ‘yon your door!
    Stand up! and seek the brilliance of today
    Before that kiss of light will be no more!

    (Form: Rubaiyat form: a,a,b,a (quatrains) iambic pentameter)

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