In 1859 The Rubaiyat of Omar Kahayam rendered into English verse by Edward FitzGerald was published priced 5/-. It attracted no attention and in 1861 the remaining copies were put in a box on the street outside the publisher's door for sale to passers by at 1d. A copy was bought by the painter and poet Rossetti who introduced it to Swinburne and William Morris. Gradually it became famous and the Rubaiyat remains today some of the best loved Victorian verse.
The Rubaiyat is a collection of meditations on love, death, God, mortality and wine from eleventh century Persia. Here are a few verses on death and mortality that might be some comfort for a funeral.
Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown forever dies.
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.
With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd --
"I came like Water and like Wind I go."
Into this Universe, and Why not knowing,
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.
Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;
But not the Master-Knot of Human Fate.
There was the Door to which I found no Key:
There was the Veil through which I could not see:
Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee
There was -- and then no more of Thee and Me.