RUSKIN ON FITZGERALD'S "OMAR"
A letter written (by Ruskin) from Chamouni will serve to introduce a literary incident of some interest :- (To Mrs. John Simon)“ September 27.... Did John tell you of the delightful Eastern poem I've got, of eleventh century ? There's such a jolly stanza out of it :-
“Then to the rolling Heav'n itself I cried,
Asking. What Lamp had Destiny to guide
Her little Children stumbling in the Dark ?
And ' A blind understanding,' Heaven replied."
Ruskin, it will be seen, had got hold of Fitz- gerald's Omar Khayyam, which had made a fugitive first appearance in 1859. A transcript of the whole poem exists in one of his note-books; very deep and lovely,” he thought it. In September 1863 he addressed a letter to The Translator of the Rubaiyat of Omar -a letter of enthusiastic admiration, one may surmise from Fitzgerald's characteristic reference to it: a sudden fit of Fancy, I suppose, which he is subject to."-Life of Ruskin by E. T. Cook, Volume II (1860-1900), pp. 64-65.