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  • Clarity, I, Flower, Water, and: From Green to Green, and: Time-Oasis
  • Sohrab Sepehri (bio)
    Translated from the Persian by Jean Valentine and Kaveh Bassiri


Translated from the Persian by Jean Valentine and Kaveh Bassiri

There is no cloud.No wind.I sit at the edge of the pond:the circling of fishes, clarity, I, flower, water.The purity of the cluster of life.

My mother is picking basil.Bread, basil, and cheese, a cloudless sky, wet petunias.Salvation near: between the flowers in the yard.

What caresses the light pours into the copper bowl!The ladder, from the top of the high wall, brings the morning to    earth.Behind a smile is hidden—everything.The wall of time has a chink, through which my face is visible.There are things I don’t know.I know if I pick a leaf of grass, I’ll die.I go to the mountaintop: I’m made of wings and feathers.I see a road in the dark: I’m a lantern.Light and sand,forest and tree.I’m made of the road, the bridge, the river, the wave.I’m the reflection of a leaf on water:empty inside. [End Page 152]


Translated from the Persian by Jean Valentine and Kaveh Bassiri

I in this darknessthink of a bright white lambto come graze the grass of my weariness.

I in this darknesssee on my outstretched arms in the rainthe same rain that fell on the first human prayers.

I in this darknessopened the door to the wheat fields of long ago,to the golden gods and animals we saw on the walls of the sky.

I in this darknesssaw the rootsand, for the newly sprouting bush of death,explained the meaning of water. [End Page 153]


Translated from the Persian by Jean Valentine and Kaveh Bassiri

If you come looking for me,I’m in back of the Land of Nothingness.It’s a real place.In this place the currents of air are filled with dandelion seedsthat carry the news of flowering from the farthest plant on earth.And on the sand, the hoofprints of gentle riderswho have ridden in the dark of morning up to the hilltopwhere the red poppies rise up to God.In back of the Land of Nothingness, the umbrella of yearning is open:the breath of thirst runs through the stem of a leaf,the bell of rain is sounded.One is alone here,and in this solitude, the shadow of an elm tree flows to eternity.

If you come looking for me,come quietly, gently,so as not to crack the thin porcelain of my loneliness. [End Page 154]

Sohrab Sepehri

Sohrab Sepehri (1928–80) was a leading figure in modern Iranian poetry and painting. His major literary work, hasht ketab (Eight Books), has been a steady bestseller. Over forty books have been written about him and his work. His paintings were shown in various exhibitions, including Venice and San Paolo Biennale.

Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine’s twelfth book of poetry is Break the Glass (Copper Canyon Press). Her next book, Shirt in Heaven, is forthcoming in 2015. The recipient of the 2009 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, Valentine has taught at Sarah Lawrence, New York University, and Columbia. She lives in New York City.

Kaveh Bassiri

Kaveh Bassiri’s poetry won the Bellingham Review’s 49th Parallel Award and has been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Mississippi Review, and Best New Poets 2011. His translations won the Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Residency and have been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Guernica, and Massachusetts Review.



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pp. 152-154
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