Title Meaning. Farsi is the language that has been spoken in Iran since the about the ninth century AD. It is written with Arabic characters. Each quatrain, though consisting of only four lines, stood alone as a separate work, usually an epigram or a special insight. But he also added his own insights and couched the quatrains in his own style. Rather than telling a story with characters, a lyric poem presents the deep feelings and emotions of the poet on subjects such as life, death, love, and religion. However, after poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti read and praised it in , the poem became highly popular.
FitzGerald was a friend of Thackeray and Tennyson, but initially had few writerly ambitions of his own. Scruffy, eccentric, a bit of recluse and very rich, he was drawn to younger men, and it was from one of these, Edward Cowell, he began learning Persian in FitzGerald was enthralled and declared that the poems had "the ring of true metal". The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics quotes the tradition that the Persian quatrain-form, the ruba'i, originated in the gleeful shouts of a child, overheard and imitated by a passing poet. FitzGerald got the rhyme-scheme right but missed the rhythmic subtlety of the original prosodic pattern; some of the quatrains are paraphrased, some mashed together, others invented. The verse semi-narrative FitzGerald finally assembled is the product of a ruthless editorial job — but how much poorer English poetry would be without it. His endeavour might more generously be termed "transcreation".