Carpe Diem part 2- Back in the UK and a timely perspective on life and music and poetry

Our UK visit was an opportunity to see our good friends Richard and Lisa and Lisa’s father John Hammond.

John is a fascinating, well read and well travelled man who lived in South Africa for many years. His passions include opera and horses and in his long life he has dabbled in acting and written both poetry and prose.

We talked about many things, but in particular his lifelong affection for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, as translated by Edward FitzGerald in 1859 from the verse  attributed to an historical Persian writer.

A controversial book  Telegraph article (or check out other online sources) whatever your views on this work or it’s origins, FitzGerald’s real feel for the flow of verse shines through.

There have been many versions, but John is familiar with and I have copy of the 1909 edition illustrated  by Toulouse artist Edmund Dulac.

Richly evocative of the period (one of my favourites eras, art, design and decor wise)  My copy came to me in a state of disintegration with many pages and some of the colour plates missing.

Naturally this illustration right perfectly encapsulates my idea of the perfect terrace!

pinterest edmund dulac

Due to the level of disintegration of my Dulac copy , I may frame the plates I do have with a clear conscience (John agrees!) A path that also chimes with the carpe diem philosophy underpinning the poem.

Perhaps John relates to the character evident in the narrator of these verses.Here was a man who lived his whole life  seizing the day. He may not always have done the “right thing” by other’s standards but he has certainly lived a life where the appreciation of music, literature, food, drink  and nature is key.

John has several editions of this work and, even now, can quote whole tranches of it in his own clear and respectful style. Apparently he used to read it to his wife and keeps a tiny copy edition with a written dedication from her on his bedside table.

That’s love. That’s life.


About coteetcampagne

Artist, period home maker, renovator, restorer, Francophile. My mission is to save the old stuff, one beautiful piece at a time
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10 Responses to Carpe Diem part 2- Back in the UK and a timely perspective on life and music and poetry

  1. francetaste says:

    This is a work I haven’t read, though it’s long been on my list. You are encouraging me to get to it. The illustration is so dreamy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris says:

    What an interesting person

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gabriele says:

    I first started reading the Rubaiyat back in high school (1959), and older Penguin edition. I found later versions but my affection was already attached to that version, and still is. One summer between jobs when I lived with my sister as a baby sitter/house cleaner in a vacation area with no access to libraries (lots of casino entertainment), I used my time off to walk about the area (cabins in wooded environment), memorizing the verses. Didn’t get all the way through but just reading it
    kept my mind open and made me realize what worked for my sister (and rest of family) didn’t work for me. Back to San Francisco and whatever job I could find.
    The first verse has since been a touchstone for reminding me that I am a majority of one.
    And when things happen beyond my control (politics!) I remind myself,
    “Iram indeed is gone with all its Rose,
    And Jamshyd’s Sev’n-ring’d Cup where no one Knows;
    But still the Vine her ancient ruby yields,
    And still a Garden by the Water blows”
    Puts a proper perspective on worldly matters.

    What a pleasure the company of this man must be, how fortunate to know him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Osyth says:

    John is a man I would love to meet. Mindful, educated, appreciative, intellectual …. yes, the sort of man that enriches a life. My own Rubaiyat belonged to my paternal grandmother. It was a tiny leather bound pocket version with Dulac illustrations. My ex-husband took it to Ireland when he left the girls and I and refused (along with all my other books) to give it back. But he couldn’t take away the memories and one day I will find another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many photoes, pictures and books “disappeared” during my two divorces, most irreplaceable.
      My second husband threw an antique trunk full of hundreds and hundreds of my drawings dating back to Art School on the local tip.
      Though I look back with sadness, these are just things and I’ve started anew, treasured my memories and moved on with a sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Osyth says:

        We have much in common you and I, in the way our hearts beat and the way those hearts have been willfully abused. In the end you have so much to be proud of and that most important thing is that those that love you, are proud of you xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. Again. I’ve just been “condescended ” to again. I swear I am on the edge of being nice to people

        Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth says:

        Mail me so I can understand where, would you. And you can be nice to me and a few others and unfetter what you feel elsewhere. I have had an epiphany this last couple of days and I think it’s time to take the gloves off and stop being Mrs Eversonice who people kick about 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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