For his take on “Quatrain XI” of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, Bearden transports Omar Khayyám Old World Persia to New World Tropics f. Though the poem suggests sensuality, Bearden presents the poet clothed but the woman naked, except for a body sash and a head turban. It’s still a lover’s tryst nourished with a promise of bread, wine, and poetry. Bearden’s lovers are in an assortment of foliage in bewildering shapes and brilliant colors. Some concentration is required to observe the lovers at ease on the grass tucked into the immediate foreground.
“Quatrain XI” is among the best-known verses of The Rubáiyát, most often as translated by Edward Fitzgerald English translations (1859):
A Book of Verses underneath a Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread-and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness-
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
See Romare Bearden. Khayam and the Black Girl (1971). collage;Khayyam, Omar. The Rubáyát of Omar Khayyám.Edited by Edward Fitzgerald. London: Bernard Quarich, 1859.