"We are no other than a moving row
of magic shadow shapes that come and go,
'round with the sun-illumined lantern held,
at midnight by the master of the show.
But pieces of the game he plays
upon this chequer-board of nights and days,
and hither and thither moves and checks and slays,
and one by one, back in the closet lays."
Khayyam's Rubaiyat is a great work of amateur philosophy, as well as being one of the literary greats of all time. It combines a deeply poetic, resounding tone with ideas and images so vivid and sophisticated that one has to admire the genius of the work. Khayyam's view of the world runs back and forth, from religious to agnostic to atheistic. His central thesis, though, remains the same, that man's time on earth is limited, and he should drink the wine of fulfillment while he can, before it's too late.
"The moving finger writes, and having writ,
not all thy piety nor wit,
can lure it back to cancel half a line,
nor all thy tears can wash away a word of it."