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Sohrab Sepehri, "Water"

Since it's a gorgeous morning, I'll start off with one of my very favorite poets, the Persian poet and artist Sohrab Sepehri, who died in 1980. Sohrab's work is highly lyrical, at the same time sensual and surreal, and I believe he's one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century, in a class with Neruda and Rilke, but not recognized very well in the US. He was also a painter. More information can be found here:

Though he's written several grand long poems, called lyric-epics, I'll share one of his shorter pieces, brilliantly translated by Kazim Ali and Jafar Mahallarti, in their new collection of Sepehri translations, The Oasis of Now: I love this poem because of its simplicity and environmental good sense.


Let's not stir up any mud in the water.

Downstream, a pigeon may be drinking

or a thrus in the thicket having a bath.

Or someone in the village filing a pitcher.

Let's not stir up any mud in the water.

Maybe it flows past the polar in its way to soothe some lonely soul,

or the wandering dervish is there, soaking his dry bread crusts.

Somone beautiful approaches the clear reflecting water,

twice as beautiful now.

Sweet, clear stream,

when the townsfolk hear the water lapping at the rocks,

they become happy and their cows produce twice as much milk!

I've never been to that town

but I have no doubt God's footprints track through every flowerbed

and the full moon illuminates their poetry and songs.

No doubt there are only low fences

and every citizen can tell you the difference

between a poppy and a peony.

No doubt blue is bluer there.

And each citizen is attuned to the sound of a bud breaking into blossom.

What an amazing place,

its backroads flooded with the music of the wind.

People who live by rivers understand water.

They do not stir up the mud and neither should we.


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