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Illustration to Quatrain VII, sesquicentenary edition of Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, published by The Folio Society, 2011. Watercolour and gouache on Arches hot pressed, 240 x 135mm.

Quatrain VII

Come fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentence fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly – and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

I’m having a slightly stressful and fretful period. Among other things, I’m packing in preparation for moving, going through my horrendous mountains of things little by little. Like everyone else in the northern hemisphere, I am longing for spring and a fresh new beginning.

As with the illustration to quatrain IX, I also drew from Persian mythology for this; this time choosing the Huma bird as the subject. It is a creature of fortune who bestows kingship and flies without ever coming to rest. In some variations of its legends, it is said, like the phoenix, to consume itself in flames and rise again. I felt that it might serve for the metaphorical ‘Bird of Time’ of the quatrain.