Poetry /

Omar Khayyam's khosh bāsh

Part 2
خش باش

In this second part of the Persian language/Farsi lesson on Khayām's Khosh Bash we go over the following section of the poem, along with all the vocabulary and phrases associated with the words learned:


خیام اگر ز باده مستی خوش باش

با ماهرخی اگر نشستی خوش باش


khayām, agar zé bādé mastee, khosh bāsh

bā māh rokhee agar neshastee, khosh bāsh



Edward Fitzgerald translation:

Khayyam, if you are drunk with wine, be happy.

If you have sat with a beloved who has a face like the moon, be happy.


how are you?

Note: In Persian, as in many other languages, there is a formal and an informal way of speaking. We will be covering this in more detail in later lessons. For now, however, chetor-ee is the informal way of asking someone how they are, so it should only be used with people that you are familiar with. hālé shomā chetor-é is the formal expression for ‘how are you.’

Spelling note: In written Persian, words are not capitalized. For this reason, we do not capitalize Persian words written in phonetic English in the guides.


I’m well

Pronunciation tip: kh is one of two unique sounds in the Persian language that is not used in the English language. It should be repeated daily until mastered, as it is essential to successfully speak Persian. Listen to the podcast for more information on how to make the sound.

Persian English
salām hello
chetor-ee how are you?
khoobam I’m well
merci thank you
khayli very
khayli khoobam I’m very well
khoob neestam I’m not well
man me/I
bad neestam I’m not bad
ālee great
chetor-een? how are you? (formal)
hālé shomā chetor-é? how are you? (formal)
hālet chetor-é? how are you? (informal)
khoob-ee? are you well? (informal)
mamnoonam thank you
chetor peesh meeré? how’s it going?
ché khabar? what’s the news? (what’s up?)

Hello and welcome to Lesson 75 of Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation! Today, we’ll be going over the words and phrases in one of my favorite poems, Khayam’s khosh bash.


So, first I want to point out that it’s absolutely incredibly that this poem was written in the 11 hundreds, and that we’re studying Persian here in the 21st century, and can still very easily understand this poem. Now, it may have some wording that we don’t exactly use in conversation, but again, the fact that it’s even comprehensible to us is pretty interesting!


So we’re going to go over this full poem, what the words mean, and also go over alternative ways to say the same sentiments with more modern conversational language.


Before we get started, let’s listen to the full poem as read by my father, Javad Shams. My father is a theater actor and has an incredible voice, so it’s quite a treat having this audio recording to work with. And I want to note that this is a poem he recites often as well, and I think really abides by in his life.


Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash

Ba mah rokhee agar neshastee, khosh bash

Chon aghebateh kareh jahan neestee hast

Engar keh neestee, cho hastee, khosh bash



We went over the meaning of the poem in the last lesson- this is Khayyam’s ultimate carpe diem poem- a message to remind you to live in the moment and to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. So what is the mantra he keeps repeating in the poem? It’s ‘khosh bash’. Bash is the second person present conjugation of to be. Bash




And as we said in the last discussion with Fared, khosh is often translated as happy, but I don’t think it’s exactly the right word for it. Khosh is more like glad, or blissful, or on the positive side of feeling- maybe something a little bit more neutral than happy- maybe more along the line of be well, be content. Actually, content might be my favorite word I’ve come up with so far. This is what’s difficult about translation- language is all about subtleties, and there’s not a direct direct translation of this sentiment of being ‘khosh’ in Khayyam’s poem. So let’s just say it’s a smidgen more positive than just content- it’s being content without having any worries or needs or fears- pure contentment. So again, khosh




And khosh bash means you be content. Khosh bash


khosh bash


So bash is a command word- you, be content. Khosh bash


kosh bash.


and he begins the poem by addressing himself- Khayyam. He opens up a dialogue with himself and shows that this poem is simply a reminder for himself, a reminder that he be content.


So now let’s hear my father say the first full line of the poem:


 Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash

Alright, a lot of useful vocabulary in this first sentence. So first, the word agar, means if. Very useful in conversation. Agar




The next word is a poetic and older word- ze. We don’t use this word in Persian conversation- instead in colloquial version it gets translated to az, which means from. So in the poem it’s ze




But in real Persian conversation we would say az. Az




And we’ll practice saying the full sentence with both words when we get down to it. Next, the word bade. So this is simply the word for wine. Bade




and mast is the word for drunk. Mast




Mastee means you are drunk. Mastee




And we don’t get into grammar in these lessons, so if you’d like more of a breakdown of how mastee is the second person conjugation of drunk, then listen to Lesson 21 of Chai and Conversation. Mastee is the shortened version of mast hastee, you are drunk. So mast hastee, in spoken conversation becomes mastee


So agar ze bade mastee all together means if you are drunk off wine, or more literally, if you are drunk of wine. Agar ze bade mastee


agar ze bade mastee


And again he ends by saying his mantra for this poem and probably for his life, and that is khosh bash


khosh bash


So the full sentence, which he begins by addressing his own name, Khayyam, let’s say together, is ‘Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash’


Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash


Perfect- one more time, Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash


Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash


And again, remember in present day conversation, we wouldn’t use ze, we would say az, And bade is an old word too, and I’ve only heard it in poetry, where it actually comes up a lot. The word we would more commonly use to refer to wine these days is sharab. sharab




So probably in present conversation we would use the sentence agar az sharab mastee


agar az sharab mastee


But, let’s say the full sentence as said in the poem one more time. Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash


Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash

Ok, let’s move on to the next sentence. First, my father reading the second line:


ba mah rokhee agar neshastee, khosh bash


So first thing to note is that we hear ‘khosh bash’ again in this sentence, so you at least have that down. Khosh bash


khosh bash


And now the main subject of this sentence- mah rokhee. The word mah means moon. mah




and the word rokh means face. Rokh




so mah rokh is a person with the face of the moon. Mah rokh


mah rokh


We mentioned in the last lesson, this is the highest compliment in the Persian language- a person that looks like the moon is the archetype of beauty in Persian culture. You’ll often see drawings of this woman with a perfectly round face, joined eyebrows, head tilted to the side, and that’s the epitome of beauty. So mah rokhee means a woman with the face of the moon. mah rokhee


mah rokhee


I want to point out here that there are actually two versions of this poem- sometimes you find a version that uses laleh rokhee. Laleh is a red tulip flower. So this is a woman with a face like a tulip flower, which in this context is referring to the color of her cheeks. So a rosy cheeked woman is a laleh rokh. Laleh rokhee


laleh rokhee


A woman with rosy cheeks. So either way mah rokhee, laleh rokhee, he’s referring to a beautiful woman. So let’s listen to the sentence again:


ba mah rokhee agar neshastee


So let’s learn these other words. Ba simply means ‘with’ Ba




We hear agar again, and that means if. Agar




And neshastee is the second person conjugation of to sit. Neshastee




So let’s repeat, ba mah rokhee agar neshastee


ba mah rokhee agar neshastee


And hopefully you get that this would means if you are sitting with a moon faced girl. Ba mah rokhee agar neshastee


ba mah rokhee agar neshastee


So the Persian language has a lot of room to move things around play with word order. So if I were to say this sentence in conversation I would probably move the order around and say ‘agar ba mah rokhee neshastee’


Agar ba mah rokhee neshastee


But again, this goes to show that language is flexible- the order can be different and people will completely understand your meaning. The word order in Khayyam’s poem is more poetic and a bit more formal. So again, ba mah rokhee agar neshastee



ba mah rokhee agar neshastee


And the full thing is ‘ba mah rokhee agar neshastee, khosh bash’


ba mah rokhee agar neshastee, khosh bash’


So this is a very short and simple and sweet poem, and we want you ALL to memorize it- no excuses! It’s a message we can all stand behind, and it’s a good reminder to be content in life. We’re going to end this week’s lesson here so you have an ample amount of time to absorb the lesson and get it memorized. We’ll end by listening to my father read the entire thing, and I’ll be back the next lesson to get all the vocabulary for the last two sentences analyzed- so, ta dafeyeh ba’ad!


Khayyam, agar ze bade mastee, khosh bash

Ba mah rokhee agar neshastee, khosh bash

Chon aghebateh kareh jahan neestee hast

Engar keh neestee, cho hastee, khosh bash