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The moving finger writes

Posted by Probe on January 09, 2008

In Reply to: The moving finger writes posted by Smokey Stover on January 07, 2008

: : : What is the meaning of "The moving finger writes: and having written moves on"?

: : See
: :

: I don't know exactly with whom I am disagreeing, but I strongly disagree with what is quoted as

: "Meaning

: "Whatever one does in one's life is one's own responsibility and cannot be changed."

: Omar Khayyam, at least as translated by Edward Fitzgerald, is NOT talking about personal responsibility. The moving finger is the finger of inexorable fate, not subject to our ability to stop it or change what it is writing. Or, if you don't like the word "Fate," think: "unknown Master of this Magic Lantern show." That is Omar's message pretty much throughout his Rubaiyat. Look at the stanza just before the quoted one about the moving finger.

: he Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
: But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
: And He that toss'd you down into the Field,
: He knows about it all--HE knows--HE knows!

: Or the next stanza after it.

: And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
: Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die,
: Lift not your hands to It for help--for It
: As impotently moves as you or I.

: To read the entire Rubaiyat, in Fitzgerald's translation, go to:


: In Persian poetry a quatrain is a ruba'i, and a ruba'iyát is a collection of quatrains. If you search the Internet even slightly you will be able to find a great deal of interesting information about the poem, its author, and Persian literature.

I believe the modern usage of expressions may be quite different of their original meanings. In Russian there is a proverb which sounds similarly - in rough translation "what is written with a pen shall not be chopped off with an axe". Nowadays many people interprete it as a firmness of a written commitment. However in my mind this means "what is done is done forever and cannot be changed with whatever means".
I will be grateful for your comments with regards whether these two expressions are close in their meanings as you (as native speakers) feel it. Thank you.