This gorgeous hand-pulled silkscreen art print was produced by Stanley Mouse in 1998. It is printed on extra-thick oak-tag rag paper stock and features a beautiful Mouse signature. The image is one of the most enduring in rock history and the defining symbolic representation of the Grateful Dead. It is based on the September 1966 poster created by Mouse and Alton Kelley.
Mouse recalled: “We would go to the San Francisco library and peruse the books on poster art. They had a back room full of books you couldn’t take out with great references. We were just going through and looking for something. And found this thing and thought, ‘This says Grateful Dead all over it.’” What Mouse found was The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Omar Khayyam was a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer who lived from 1048-1131, and a rubaiyat is a form of poetry (a quatrain rhyme)—hence The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The translation best known to English-speakers and found by Mouse and Kelley was done by Edward FitzGerald and illustrated by Edmund Joseph Sullivan, with five editions published from 1859 to 1889 that were more interpretive than they were literal. Mouse was particularly drawn to a Sullivan illustration that accompanied Verse 26, and couldn’t leave it behind. “I hate to say this,” Mouse recalled, “but Kelley cut it out with a pen knife. I always say that we Xeroxed it, but there weren’t Xerox machines then.
And the poem that goes with this illustration is fantastic. It’s short and sweet and had to do with wine, women and song.” A perfect match for The Grateful Dead sound. Kelley appropriated the black-and-white Sullivan illustration, and Mouse colored it in. The resulting poster advertised The Dead’s Avalon Ballroom show with Oxford Circle, September 16-17, 1966, and cemented Mouse and Kelley’s presence in San Francisco’s rock poster scene.
O, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise to talk;
one thing is certain, that life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is lies;
The Flower that once has blown forever dies.
- Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam