Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sohrab Sepehri, poetry and art

From Water's Footsteps

by Sohrab Sepehri, who lived from 1928-1980,
Water's Footsteps was published in 1965
(these are small excerpts from a longer piece
Translated by Karim Emami
Sent to earthfamilyalpha by our poet friend
Farideh Hasanzadeh in Tehran

I come from Iran.
I lead a modest life.
I earn a morsel of bread,
I have a bit of intelligence, an iota of taste.
I have a mother, better than the green leaf.
I have friends better than running water.

I am a Moslem.
My Mecca is a rose.
My mosque is a spring,
my prayer stone the light.
Fields make my prayer rug.

In this land, I am close to the damp anonymity of the grass.
I can hear the flower beds breathing,
And the sound of darkness, as it trickles down from the leaves.
And I can hear daylight coughing behind the trees.
And water sneezing out of every pore of the rock.

I am close to the beginning of the earth.
I feel the pulse of the flowers.
I am familiar with the wet destiny of water
and the green habit of trees.

I have never known two poplars to be enemies.
I have never seen a willow selling its shade to the ground.
The elm lets its branch to the crow for free.
Wherever there are leaves ,my enthusiasm blossoms.
A poppy plant has bathed me in the rapid flow of being.

Life is a pleasant custom.
Life's wings spread out as much as death's.
life leaps as high as love.
life is not something to be left behind by you or me
on the edge of the habit's shelf.

Wherever I am , let me be.
The sky is mine.
The window, the mind, the air, love, earth are all mine.
What does it matters
if mushrooms of nostalgia
grow from time to time?

I am a Moslem.
My Mecca is a rose.
My mosque is a spring, my prayer stone the light.
Fields make my prayer rug.

The Primeval Call

Translated to English by M. Alexandrian

Where are my shoes?
Who was it who called Sohrab?
It was a familiar voice like the touch of the wind on the leave.
My mother is asleep.
So are Manouchehr and Parvaneh and perhaps all the townsfolk.
The June night passes gently over seconds like an elegy,
And a cool breeze from the corner of the blanket sweeps my sleep.
It smells of separation:
My pillow is full of the song of the swallow plumes.

Morning shall break,
The sky will migrate
With this cup of water.

I must go tonight!
I who spoke to the folk in this region through the widest window,
Never heard a word that matched time;
No loving eye stared at the ground;
Nobody was enchanted by looking at the garden,
Nobody took a magpie seriously at a farm.
I am dejected like a cloud.
When I behold Houri - the neighbor's full grown lass -
Studying theology
At the foot of the rarest elm tree on earth.

There are other things also - moments of exaltation
(For example I saw a poetess
So absorbed watching the horizon
That the sky laid eggs in her eyes;
And one night out of other nights,
A man questioned me:
"How long does it take to the rising of grapes?)

Tonight I must go!
I must take a suitcase
Big enough to contain my shirt of loneliness
And walk in a direction
Where epic-singing trees can be seen;
Towards the vast wordless expanse which keeps calling me.
Someone called me again: Sohrab!,
Where are my shoes?

Sohrab Sepehri, poet and painter was born in 1928 in Kashan Iran. After obtaining his high school diploma, he attended and obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Fine ArtsFaculty of Tehran University. In the first twelve years after his graduation he worked in several government agencies while on the side pursuing his personal interest in poetry and painting. During these years he also traveled on numerous occasions to Europe, and Africa.

In 1964 he completely resigned from his governmental position and began focusing all his time and energy on poetry and painting. He moved and lived in USA for one year, and subsequently spent about two years living in Paris. During this time period he painted numerous paintings applying the same soft and gentle style, which can be found in his poems.

In 1979 he was diagnosed with cancer (lukemia) and for the last time he moved to England for treatment. A year later, in 1980, he passed away in Tehran and now he rests in his birthplace, Kashan.

He is regarded as one of Iran's most important modern poets.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely poem. Know anyone who can translate Farsee to English? My father in law, a native of Iran, is a wonderful poet and we'd like to gather his work into one volume with facing page originals.
All here goes well enough, and the war drags on and on.



PS anyone who can translate and is intersted write to

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this and thanks to Farideh.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful, Susan - thank you- Katherine

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sohrab Sepehri is one of the most loved poet of our time in Iran.
Many thanks

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for posting this. I am so glad I had a chance to look at and read it.

best wishes,

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Dear

I washed my eyes, I see otherwise.
I’m choosing my favorite poems 4 Next my Album
Now ,Sohrab Sepehri ‘s poem is interesting 4 me
I will tie my Soul to Nature,
and my free songs based on khayyam’s poems are in my personal web site(

Best regard
Morti Meni

7:36 PM  

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