Omar’s Picture Book, Episode #3

Here is the third installment of  my “Rubaiyat as Tarot Cards” visual narrative. I have a hunch this is going to get difficult due to the sheer number of iterations. As expected, I’m finding more situations where the pictorial story-telling vignettes in the RWS minor cards dovetail at least as vividly with the text as do the semi-scenic Thoth cards (and sometimes more so).


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.

2 of Disks, “Change” (Jupiter in Capricorn) – if only for its intimation of a “dividing line” between “abundance” (Jupiter) and “austerity” (Saturn-ruled Capricorn), and departure from the entrenched values implied in Quatrain IX.


Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

2 of Cups, “Love” (Venus in Cancer) – the card of perfect harmony.


“How sweet is mortal Sovranty!”—think some:
Others—”How blest the Paradise to come!”
Ah, take the Cash in hand and waive the Rest;
Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!

Judgement – a first glimpse of Omar’s agnosticism peeking through.  Gabriel’s trumpet will stir the loitering soul as well as any drum. Did not the immortal Bob Dylan write: “For Halloween give her a trumpet/And for Christmas, buy her a drum”?


Look to the Rose that blows about us—”Lo,
Laughing,” she says, “into the World I blow:
At once the silken Tassel of my Purse
Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw.”

9 of Cups, “Happiness” (Jupiter in Pisces) – the RWS version carries a hint of the figurative (and literal) euphoria of wine to come.


The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes—or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two—is gone.

7 of Swords, “Futility” (Moon in Aquarius) and the 7 of Disks, “Failure” (Saturn in Taurus) – the Golden Dawn’s title for the 7 of Pentacles – “Success  Unfulfilled” – seems especially instructive. I accept Elizabeth Hazel’s opinion that the Sevens represent a step in a new direction (although with the risk of a “false start”), but the initiative falters in the suit of Pentacles.

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