Four Ruba’i


February 6, 2019 by petrujviljoen

The dream: beyond the standard frame of mind
– a form of thinking, a guiding, to find
a value, an alternative. To know;
to break with norms – to be: to self be kind


Audacity of solitude! Splendid
retreat beyond the fences intended
to order, to govern, to keep oppressed
the masses who act, who have surrendered


A means to end so-called reality –
a dreaming freedom (even partially);
the journey the setting. Imagining
a way, alive with creativity.


Repeating the pattern, again, again!
Hopeless of repair. Only the refrain –
living, acting, the four-square type of life.
Where were you when we called you to the rain?

mandala e (207x265)

Landart – Mandala Copyright Petru J Viljoen

This second set of ruba’i has, I hope a narrative, even though they are single quatrains, ie not a linked rubaiyat. I hope I managed to keep to the iambic pentameter. Strong constructive criticism please.

Linked to Dverse Poets


25 thoughts on “Four Ruba’i

  1. robtkistner says:

    This speaks strongly to freedom Petru, breaking bonds to find the space for creativity – outside the box that, open alive. I like this!

  2. Gina says:

    your pauses between lines read beautifully, though it looked disjointed it comes together at the end of each quatrain

  3. I like the effort, the way you experiment with both broken and complete sentences, makes it possible to read in a very “live” way…

  4. msjadeli says:

    i so clearly see the battle and the protective fort. these are deep

  5. Frank Hubeny says:

    I like the final question about being called to the rain. Nice rubaiyat form with iambic pentameter.

  6. I think you’ve got the rhythm mostly, but not sure about the second stanza. When the lines run on unless they keep to the rhythm is sounds awkward. I think there’s a beat too many in the last line, but it’s such a good one I’d hate to say change it.

  7. memadtwo says:

    You have a wonderful rhythm to these…I haven’t quite gotten it yet. (K)

  8. I really like these. My favorite aspect is the punctuation in the middle of the lines.

    • Thanks. I’ve been reading Omar Kayyam and was inspired by the punctuation, even dialogue – which I hope to attempt next. Nice to hear from you.

      • Yes, I was thinking that your rubai really evoke the original rubaiyat.

      • nannus says:

        Interesting that you are trying this difficult form. I like your poems.
        I am just reading the book “Lost Enlightenment” by Frederick Starr. It contains, among other things, sections about Kayyam (who was not just a poet, but a mathematician, astronomer and philosopher as well). Fascinating and highly recommended book!

        • So many books ….!! I love the challenge and glad you appreciate what I’ve done. In a previous prompt on Dverse I was reminded of Herman Hesse and managed to find a download of The Glass Bead Game – also a philosopher. I read Steppenwolf ages ago and a reread is due.

        • nannus says:

          Novels and the like are easier to translate. It is unfortunately very difficult or even impossible to translate poetry. Something is always lost on the way. There is a lot of great German poetry but I don’t know which translations are good. Try Rilke or Hölderlin. Maybe one has to try to find several translations of the same poem and compare them. Since German is closer to Dutch than to English and Afrikaans is close to Dutch, you might manage to penetrate the German as well.

        • I ought to be able to – I agree. Would love to learn a third language but will focus on one of our local languages first.

        • nannus says:

          There is quite a lot of interesting poetry in African languages as well, from songs to whole epics. A lot of it has been lost and probably a lot of it is still getting lost. In West Africa, there are stories (told to children) with embedded songs. The songs are sung together so the children have their part in the story telling. Of course there are also modern poets and singers. Learning an African language could be fun. I have had a look into some language’s grammars and it is very interesting to see how a language works that is entirely different in its structure from your own, but also works well. At the moment, I don’t have time to learn a language, but I might come back to it. I once (decades ago) had a three months intensive course in Japanese and although I have forgotten most of that, it was a really interesting experience (for somebody interested in linguistics like myself).

        • I wish I wasn’t so lazy! I had some lessons in Sesotho, very brief and yes, the structure is very different. The translations from English into, for instance Sesotho or isiZulu ends up in story-telling everytime. For instance, selamuthunzi – basically dusk or twilight, translates into: the shadows have grown already long.

        • Just did a search on the book: I think I’ll order this one next – Central Asia informed Europe about everything!

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