Tomorrow’s tangle to ye winds resign

I like reading all sorts of nonsense. This week I have been battling with Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát. 

If you have no idea what I am talking about, go now, take my car, and buy a copy. (But please bring the car back…) Its wonderful. (The poem, not the car.)

Omar Khayyám was born in 1048 in Born in Nishapur. He moved to Samarkand and then to Bukhara and became established as the leading light among mathematicians and astronomers of the Islamic medieval period. He did all sorts of clever things with circles and calendars, most of which I dont understand, but also wrote a small compendium of Persian poetry before he died in 1131. (By the way his tomb in Iran is horrible… dont even bother google searching it… its painful!) His poetry now is far more famous than this mathematical gymnastics owing not in a small part to an eccentric Englishman, Edward FitzGerald (1809–1883).

Illustration to FitzGerald's translation "Earth could not answer nor the Seas that mourn"

FitzGerald rather loosely translated the Rubáiyát for Victorian audiences. He was evidently a bit of a loony, albeit of the best possible variety… his Epitaph reads, “I am all for the short and merry life!” Anyhow, his translations formed a significant part of the Victorian obsession with all things Oriental and romantic (think Burton, Morris etc etc) and although not exactly accurate, they were hauntingly beautiful. The line in full reads,

Perplexed no more with human or divine,
Tomorrow’s tangle to ye winds resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of
The cypress-slender minister of wine.

So, what made me think of this… well, a few months ago I was visiting Bristol and came across a rusting iron arch, with an inscription over it. It captured my imagination, and I took a quick snap on my camera… It troubled me months trying to work out where the inscription was from… and at the weekend, it all clicked. Luckily I did not ‘resign my tangle to the winds,’ and so failed to follow the instructions on the arch, but may adopt Khayyám’s suggestion more closely tomorrow.


Filed under Timology

11 responses to “Tomorrow’s tangle to ye winds resign

  1. anne coughlan

    Thank you so much Tim Myatt! I have been looking that arch for a very long time and have tried to find out the origin of the quote – difficult when some of it was rusted away. I live in Hotwells and pass it often.

    • Glad to be of some small service Anne! It is such a beautiful quote, and I loved the way that time has slowly weathered away some of ‘life’s tangles!’

  2. Melissa

    Tim – we have just discovered this exact rusted arch and your blog post, with a swift Google, told us all we wanted to know. Thank you!

  3. Hannah Jenner

    My mum and I took a winding path down to the harbour in Bristol and came across the same arch! Google brought us to your page, thank you! Hannah

  4. CD

    I walk by it when I go from my house to the shops and back–I was going to post a pic I took the other day but am not sure how in replies. I think it looks about the same as it did 19 years ago. (Email me if you want me to send you the photo.)

  5. Bob Medland

    Hi Tim, In the early 1980s I lived in a house just below this lovely ironwork. It was incomplete then. I revisited it and took a photo a couple of years ago (I can send if you like). I always thought that the wording was ‘Tomorrow’s tangle to ye winds resolve’. I can’t see how the last remaining ‘L’ could have come from ‘Resign’. any thoughts?

  6. Sue West

    My Father had this made for his house in Clifton!

    • Fantastic. I am glad you made contact, and thanks for letting us know… a number of people have been wondering about this for a long time now! When did your father put this up? Any ideas why he chose this message? It seems the ‘tangle’ is untangling!

      • Sue

        Hi Tim, it would have been the late 1950s.
        I always thought it was resolve not resign but I may be wrong.
        My mum always said it was his way of saying “up yours!” But to be honest, I’m not sure. He was a bit of a character!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s