Letter of the Week
Every week, on this page, we will show a different letter from a selection of letters from Paul O'Prey's books on Robert Graves correspondence In Broken Images and Between Moon and Moon.

Date: 06 AUG 1967

Recipient: Shah, Idries (1924-1996)

Location: Canellun

* * *

6 August 1967

Dearest Idries:

David Ascoli of Cassell has sent me page proofs of the Rubaiyyat. I have corrected them as best I can, including Omar's preface, but I cannot check the bibliography at the end. Omar told Ascoli that he's going to Italy, and will be incommunicado for at least a month. From which I guess he will place Anna and Mina with her sister there, and then go to Jerusalem, Amman, Bagdad, Damascus; possibly also to Delhi and even Moscow? I told Ascoli merely that it is no good holding the proofs for him, and that you would doubtless make yourself responsible for the proper spelling of the names in the Bibliography. I gave him your address and telephone number. He is apparently most eager to learn about the Sufi background of the poem.

— I have made a few refinements on the translation, for euphony, and was delighted to find that the original of rubaiyya 110 is

Though pearls in praise of God I never strung

which is 1,000,000 times better than:

Though verse in praise of God I never penned.

Each time I read the poem, the more it impresses me. How he must have suffered!

— And how well he conveys, in the first part, the shallow, carefree spirit of his youth; which intensifies the turmoil of the second and the nobility of the third!

— I have asked David Ascoli to check with Michael Horniman (of Watt's) the copyright attribution for the fly leaf, and (if he does not know of Omar's Trust for the Regiment) to ask you whether it should figure in the copyright attribution. (Originally Omar and I agreed on going 50/50; but when I heard that he was giving his share to the Regiment Fund, I told him that I would take a third and let the remaining 16 2/3rd % go to the Fund too.)

. . . .

Anyhow, I am feeling very well, despite the huge amount of work entailed by constant visits from friends, mostly young undergraduates and that sort of thing. And also feeling very blessed: and protected against the assaults of the World, Flesh and Devil by those whom I love — especially the Shahs with whom I seem to commune even when no letters pass between us; and friends like Sonja, and Selwyn Jepson, and John Benson Brooks the American musician with whom I always lodge in NY. And, now that Aemilia has disappeared for some years at least and broken the bridge between us, there is Juli -— who is here now with her family, and who is like a raindrop reflecting a whole countryside) and utterly to be trusted — the more so because she has never had any histoire d'amour of any importance, and defiantly keeps her virginal magic.

— I haven't written any poems for some weeks; which is a pleasant change, because it means a relief from the fearful tension of that Aemilia period. If poems come again it will be with a difference.

Báraka Bashád


Love to Juan and Kashfi and Saraita and the twins.

Text Copyright © of Robert Graves Copyright Trust