Two poets, politics and search engine

Omar Khayyam was poet, mathematician and philosopher during the rule of Seljuq dynasty in Iran. He was also astrologer. He designed calendar for Sultan, which was called Jalali Calender. Unfortunately in Western world he is known only for his poems- rubiayts (thanks to translations by Edward FitzGerald).

A Book of verses underneath the bough, a jug of wine, a loaf of bread— and you, beside me singing in the wilderness…

…And oh, wilderness is paradise now

-Rubiayat of Omar Khayyam

Post assassination of Sultan, he became victim of court politics (just like our office politics) and widow of Sultan wanted to get rid of him, but better sense prevailed and he was allowed to remain in court, but only as an astrologer.

His Chinese counterpart was Xin Qiji, like Omar he was poet, but he was also a warrior. His dream was to free China from Jin Dynasty and establish supremacy of Han people (under Song Dynasty). He fought many wars with Jin. Tough he was successful, due to court politics (again!! And you thought only you are victim of office politics) he was banished from court by emperor. Post banishment he started writing poems. Later emperor realised his mistake and called him back.

She chatters happily, I sense her light perfume.

In this crowd, I’ve searched for her a hundred times,

Then suddenly I wheel around …

.. and here she is!

In this very spot where lanterns fade.

–   Xin Qiji, Green Jade Table in The Lantern Festival

This poem of Xin Qiji is famous for some other reason. During Xin’s era,  girls were not allowed to leave their house, so Lantern Festival (just like our Diwali) was only occasion when lovers could see each other. If they missed it, they had to wait for one more year.

Here poet talks about last night of lantern festival and he is desperately searching for girl he loves and after searching for her hundreds of times he finally finds her. This searching – baidu, was name given to famous Chinese search engine- Baidu.



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