An Astronomer-Poet in the Superstitions

Last thoughts from Arizona: I learned you can read up on lost gold fortunes in a hokey desert gift shop, or see exposed mine car lines along the Superstition Mountains.

A used book shelf sits in one overlooked corner of an overpacked tchotchke store. Here, I found a true gem.

This is an illustrated edition of  The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: The Astronomer-Poet of Persia (translated by Edward Fitzgerald) from 1912.

My copy is a replication of the 1884 edition, which is not typeset. The poems are hand-written within the detailed drawings.

This particular book was given as a gift to a distinguished Arizonan. There’s a dedication:

To my friend Senator H.A. Davis, with earnest hope that he may continue to serve the people of Arizona with the same loyalty and ability that has characterized all his work in the past.
April 13, 1926, Edgar Kennison (Jefferson Day)

There’s a glued newspaper clipping on the front cover of the book, from a story about the Senator’s wedding in the local paper.

YEOMAN LODGE GIVES PARTY FOR DAVIS
A party in celebration of the recent marriage of Kathryn P. Harvey to Senator H. A Davis, who is supervisor of the Arizona and El Paso districts of the Yeoman Lodges, was given by the membership of the local lodge at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Cornell. Fifty guests were present. Bridge and bunco games provided entertainment. A gift of silver was presented to the bride.

This adds another delicious layer to the story, folding the notion of weddings gifts of silver into poetic mentions of cups of wine, images of the moon, and roses in bloom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.