The Rubaiyat : Quatrain X

With me along some Strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan scarce is known,
And pity Sultan Mahmud on his Throne.

This is the tenth quatrain of Fitzgerald's The Rubaiyat. As unlike all previous quatrains, this one picks up from where the previous quatrain left. In the ninth quatrain the poet implores to come with him and ignore the glories of past and leave them behind. This quatrain details as to where they are going! With Khayyam, we go to place where a strip of green herbage is grown that divides the desert from the sown village lands. This spot marks the start of the desert. Beyond this point, the name of the slave and of the sultan is unknown. The distinction between them ends and no class system exists that could differentiate between a slave and a king. And we pity the Sultan Mahmud (of Ghazni) who barely maintains control on his throne. Mahmud of Ghazni though a powerful ruler was plagued by countless insurrections in his vast empire and undertook countless raids to enemy territory for plunder and loot.(he is said to raid India seventeen times). The poet says we sympathize with with Mahmud for he is unable to live peacefully even though he is a mighty king. The underlying theme is of living in simple and uncomplicated ways. Living where the complex and rigid social structures are not there, where ideas like ownership and settlement have not taken root. To a place on the margins of the kingdom, where the villages end and where the desert begins and where the names of kings are unknown. We will live the life simply away from the complicated ways of the civilization.

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