The Afterlife of Edward FitzGerald’s Poem: A Comparative Study of FitzGerald's Rubáiyát and Housman’s A Shropshire Lad

Document Type: Original Article


Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran


The present paper seeks to address and examine Edward FitzGerald’s globally-known poem afterlife, The Rubáiyát. Translation can serve as a force for literary renewal and innovation. For many years translation was regarded as a marginal area within comparative studies, now it is acknowledged that translation has played a vital role in literary history and great periods of literary innovation tend to be preceded by periods of intense translation activity. The significance of FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát lies in how the poem was read when it appeared and in the precise historical moment when it was published. The impact of FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát was such that on the one hand it served as a model for a new generation of poets struggling to make the skepticism and pessimism a proper subject for poetry, while on the other hand it established a benchmark for future translators because it set the parameters in the minds of English-language readers of what Persian poetry could do. The present chapter tries to show that FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát had a role in forming pre-modern English poetry, notably Housman’s poetry, in terms of form and content. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad and FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát have undeniable similarities.