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writing in the eleventh century, khayyam was one of the most accomplished masters of the new and increasingly popular ruba'i, or two line stanza, that had been adopted by poets to help them shake off the artifice of conventional court poetry and express their personal feelings with wit and clarity. khayyam ranges in his stanzas through the most fundamental aspects of human experience and, since edward fitzgerald's victorian translation, his verses have been among the most popular in the english language. in this new translation the persian scholar peter avery and the poet john heath-stubbs have recaptured the sceptical and unorthodox spirit of the persian text by giving as literal an english version of the original verse as possible.
Omar Khayyam is famous as a poet, astronomer and mathematician - he was one of the greatest mathematicians of the Middle Ages. He was born near Nishapur in north-east Persia and is thought to have died in approximately 1122. John Heath-Stubbs published several volumes of poetry, including Collected Poems 1988. He also translated poetry, including Leopardi. He edited selections of Swift, Shelley, TEnnyson and Pope, as well as various anthologies. He received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1973 and the OBE in 1989 for services to literature.