Douglas Taylor (1938-2019)

The death of Douglas Taylor, 27th May 2019, means a great loss, not only for his wife and children and all other loved ones, but also for the international Omar Khayyám community.

Douglas was a keen collector of the rubáiyát, he took the verses of the old Persian poet to heart and found comfort and consolation in them. More than that, he spent much of his time and energy in studying, analysing and comparing the various translations and editions of the verses ascribed to Khayyám. Over the years he built a respectable library of all sorts of editions and related material.

All these years he seemed to work in silence, maybe voluntarily, but when he came into contact with other scholars, collectors and researchers, he enjoyed the exchange of information, the discussion and the suggestions for further research. Answering questions about whatever what, if related to Khayyám, seemed his second nature.

I came to know Douglas when I was preparing my bibliography of the Rubáiyat of Omar Khayyám, somewhere in 2008. It was Michelle Kaiserlian who alerted me a certain American gentleman, who also collected rubáiyát editions, and through her Douglas and I started an e-mail contact that lasted until a few weeks before his tragic death.

He alerted me to new or unknown editions, he answered my questions almost as if he was expecting them already and soon after our first contacts it became obvious to me that here was a man who was very deep into Omar, not as a maniac but as serious scholar. And though he was rather hesitative about publishing his work or sending it out in print, he was always more than willing to share the results of his work. Proof of that is his work on uncovering, studying and documenting all sorts of material relating to Khayyám.

In later years it turned out that he had already started comparing various editions and translations of the rubáiyát, which would help me enormously in preparing my Concordances of the Rubáiyát  website. Without his help and unselfish contributions, it would be in no way what it is now.

A few weeks before his passing away, he sent me a message that he had been in hospital, but that he now was back in the saddle again, looking forward to return to his Omarian studies. He had recently been studying the sources of Eric Hermelin’s Swedish translations, and was also preparing to investigate the sources of the Finnish translation by Toyvo Lyy.

He had also studied French translations, and even went as far as trying to read or understand articles and chapters in the Dutch language, probably with the assistance of Google Translate, but it showed how eager he was to learn and understand what Khayyam was all about and what Omar meant to other people. It also showed that he looked at Khayyám’s rubáiyát from a wider view than just the English speaking world.

He more than once  expressed his regrets that he wasn’t able to join meetings with fellow omarians abroad, and on one occasion, last year when there was a conference in the Netherlands, he wrote that he wished he could be there, “even if I didn’t understand one word”.

Now I am truly sad that he is no longer with us, but I am also happy that my wife and I were able to meet with Douglas and his wife Avlona, in 2014.

Thanks Douglas, for all your good works, rest in peace.

Omar Khayyám Research Day

The Nederlands Omar Khayyám Genootschap (Dutch Omar Khayyám Society) is planning an Omar Khayyám Research Day, May 27, 2017. The event will take place in Leiden, in co-operation with Leiden University and Iran Netherlands Trade and Cultural Center.


13.00 Words of Welcome

13.15 Bill Martin & Sandra Mason
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in the West
How Edward FitzGerald & Edward Cowell made it popular

14.00 Nasrollah Pourjavady
Omar Khayyam’s Idea of Being in His Quatrains

14.45 Break

15.15 Asghar Seyed-Gohrab
Transgressing the Law: Khayyam and his Antinomian Views

15.45 Jos Coumans
Comparative tables of the Calcutta & Bodleian quatrains

16.15 Rokus de Groot
Musical approaches to Omar Khayyâm’s Rubâiyât in the Netherlands

17.00 Concluding remarks

For more details on time and location, see the poster, or contact Asghar Seyed-Gohrab on

Recent papers and articles

KhayyamwisdomA couple of recent articles show that there is still a living interest in Khayyám’s rubáiyát, and that there is wide range of subjects and aspects left to be studied.

Rebecca Mueller, graduate student at Indiana University, published a paper “Balkan Rubaiyat”, in which she presents two case studies of post-Ottoman translation. The studies concern the translations by Safvet-Beg Bašağić (1870-1934), Omer Chajjam. Rubaije published in 1920, and by Theofan Stylian Noli (1882-1965), a version in Albanian, in 1926. Mueller’s aim is to discuss how these translations can be seen in the context of Western as well as Eastern orientation of Bosnian or Albanian indentity-formation in that period.
Balkan Rubaiyat. The post-Ottoman polysystem between East and West. Rebecca Mueller.
Online available at:

D.P. May, from the Mathematics Department, Black Hills State University, Spearfish, takes a mathematical view on the Rubáiyát: how can graph theory be used to explore the connections between the various quatrains in FitzGerald’s translations.
Complete graphs in the Rubáiyát. D.P. May. Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, 8 (2014), nrs. 1-2, 59-67. DOI: 10.1080/17513472.2014.939526.

Rebecca Weston raised the question whether readers of Chinese and Persian poetry, notably by Li Bo, Khayyám or Hafez, should read between the lines when themes like ‘drunkenness’ or ‘drinking of wine’ occur. Drunkenness is not only a state of physical intoxication, but also refers to a state of spiritual enlightenment, and apart from the view that the reader takes in this discussion, Weston concludes that this unquestionably is an issue for “lengthy debate”.
Implications of Mystic Intoxication in Chinese and Iranian poetry. Rebecca Weston. The Undergraduate Historical Journal, 1 (2014), nr. 1.
Online available at:

The recent translation into Dutch by Paul Claes, Omar Chajjaam. Kwatrijnen (2010) is discussed by Benoît Crucifix, student at Université catholique de Louvain. In this article, the author looks at quatrain nr. XI, to demonstrate the principles and theoretical ideas in Claes’ translation.
Woestijn waar ik dit paradijs aan dank. Claes vertaalt FitzGerald vertaalt Chajjaam. Benoît Crucifix. Filter, 21 (2014), nr. 2.

And finally, Reza Taher-Kermani presents new insights into FitzGerald’s translation practice, to substantiate the claim that FitzGerald succeeded in transmitting an authentic Persian spirit in his Rubáiyát.
FitzGerald’s Anglo-Persian Rubáiyát. Reza Taher-Kermani. Translation and Literature, 23 (2014), 321-334. DOI:10.3366/tal.2014.0162

A Rubaiyat Archive

Illustration R. Bull

Illustration R. Bull

Recently, Bob Forrest set up a website to publish his extensive archive on the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. It contains, in Bob’s words: “extensive notes and appendices about all manner of Rubaiyat-related issues that caught my attention over time, and which therefore might well catch the attention of other students of FitzGerald’s masterpiece”. Apart from the main essay on FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát , there are notes on the first edition,, studies and contributions on Cowell, Browning, Tennyson and Wilde, on Epicureanism, religious eccentricities and the Christ myth, and comments on a number of artists and their illustrations.

Bob Forrest, retired teacher of maths, (Manchester, UK) published articles on the Rubáiyát and related matter in Omariana and in many other books and magazines. Visit his archive at: