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Footsteps of Water (Seda-ye Pa-ye Ab)

 
 

The Footsteps of Water - Sedaye Paye Ab
Poem: Sohrab Sepehri
Translation:
Ahreeman X
March 6, 2020

Sohrab Sepehri 

Sohrab Sepehri

Index of Poetry
____________
Introduction
Experts in Persian
Experts in English
Sedaye Paye Ab (Full Persian Poem)
The Footsteps of Water (Full English Poem)
Ahle Kashanam (Fanoos Band song with Sohrab Sepehri poem)
More Fanoos Band songs with Sohrab Sepehri poems (IPC Multimedia)

Introduction 

Introduction

I have always wanted to translate this masterpiece but have never found the time to actually do it. There are various translations of this poem out there on the cyber space, some are disastrous and some are fine but none of them are excellent and up to my standards. Translating this poem is not an easy task. It is a lengthy and difficult deep and metaphoric piece of poetry. It is not everyone’s piece of the pie to translate this piece, not even poets, set aside amateurs. So, at last, after 20 years, I have found the time, and decided to take on this difficult and time-consuming challenge to translate this epic poem. After all, Sohrab Sepehri is my favorite Persian poet and nothing is worthy of his masterful art than my obsessive compulsively nitpicking translation.

Translating Persian poetry to English is a hardcore task, set aside translating a heavy poem such as “The Footsteps of Water” by Master Sohrab Sepehri; therefore, to bring out the true meaning of the poem in English, so it will make sense, I had to go beyond translation and somewhat writing my own poetry. The results are sufficient enough for you to grasp the deep meanings of the Sohrab Sepehri’s poetry.

Sohrab Sepehri’s “The Footsteps of Water” poem is an epic piece of art, delicately put together with metaphors, sarcasm, critics, artistic spice and pure genius. This poem is something which you can read over and over, yet every time that you read it, you will discover more about the secret inner beauties of Sohrab’s art. Please enjoy this great piece of Modern Persian Poetry from the archives of the history and Sohrab’s heart.

Ahreeman X

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Experts in Persian 

Experts in Persian

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Experts in English 

Experts in English

Wherever I live, it does not matter, I will be there,
I will always own the sky,
The window, thought, air, love and earth are mine.
So, what does is matter,
If from time to time,
The exiled fungus of solitude may grow all around?

I do not know,
Why people say,
Horses are noble and doves are beautiful?
And why no one keeps vultures in the birdcage at home?
What does the clover bud, have less than a red tulip?
Must wash the eyes,
Must view with a different perspective.
Must wash the words.
Words must become the mere essence of the wind,
Words must become rain, on their own.
Must close the umbrellas,
Must walk under the rain.

Must wash our thoughts and memories under the rain.
With all the people of the city, must cleanse under the rain.
Under the rain, must see the true friend.
Under the rain, must find the true love.
Under the rain, must make love.
Under the rain, must play games.
Under the rain, must write words.
Speak of words, plant lotus flowers,
Life is a continuous saturation,
Life is swimming in the pond of this moment,
Let us take off our clothes,
Water is only a step away,
Let us taste the illumination!

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The Footsteps of Water

The Footsteps of Water
Poem: Sohrab Sepehri
Translation: Ahreeman X

I am from Kashan.
I am getting by, fine.
I have a modest daily bread, bit of wits and a needle tip of talent.

I have a mother better than the blooming green leaf of the tree,
And some honest friends, clear as the waterfall.

And I have a God, who is near-by,
Between these night-scented Matthiola flowers, under that pine tree,
On the awareness of the water,
On the law of natural plants.

I am a Muslim.
But my prayer direction is a red rose.
My prayer cloth is stream, my prayer seal is light,
My prayer gown is the expansion of the meadow.

I cleanse my heart in the streams of light,
Pounding from the open windows.
My prayer is so clear,
In my prayer, flows the moon and the rainbow,
So clear which you can see the stones  behind my prayer,
So clear that The pieces of my prayer explodes in the stream.

I read my prayer,
When the wind calls for the prayer,
From the green willow tops.
I read my prayer, from behind the mass of the dancing grass,
From behind the height of the waves.

My Ka’bah prayer direction is next to the water,
My prayer direction is next to the acacia flowers,
My prayer direction, light as the breeze, flows from garden to garden,
From heart to heart, from town to town.

My Ka’bah Holy Black Rock is the illumination of the garden!

I am from Kashan.
My trade is painting:
Once in a while,
I make a cage with paper and paint, and sell it to you,
So your loneliness can break,
With the song of the lilies which are imprisoned in it.
Oh, what a dream, now I dream, but I know,
I know very well,
My doodles are lifeless.
I know, the lake of my painting lacks any fish!

I am from Kashan.
Who knows,
I may have descended from a tree in Delhi, India,
Maybe from a pottery jar lost in the hills of Silak,
Maybe from a young prostitute from the city of Samarqand.

My father lies dead now,
Right behind a few migrations of the sparrows,
Right behind a few blizzards of snow,
Right behind a few moonlight hot summer nights’ sleeps,
My father lies dead behind the times.

When my father died, the sky was blue.
My mother suddenly woke up.
My sister became beautiful.
When my father died,
The constables, all claimed to be poets!
The grocer asked me:
For the funeral wake, how many melons do you want?
I asked him:
How much for happiness?

My father could paint.
My father made Tar instrument which he could also play.
He had a pleasant handwriting too.
Our garden was on the right side of the shades of wisdom.
Our garden was the rendezvous point between the feelings and the greens,
Our garden was at the intersection of sight, cage and the mirror.
Our garden was maybe an arch of the green salvation.

In my dreams:
I was chewing on the unripe fruit of God.
I was drinking water without the ice of philosophy.
I was picking mulberries without the ladder of science.

As soon as the ripe pomegranate would crack,
The hands of a fountain would beg.
As soon as the dove would sing,
The heart would burn with the warmth of the hearing.
Sometimes the loneliness would come,
And cling her cold cheek to the window glass.

The passion would arrive,
Hand on shoulders of the feeling,
Thought would play.
Life was like a shower on the New Year’s Eve,
Like a tree full of sparrows in his arms.

At that moment,
Life was a line of illumination and beautiful dolls.
Life was like an arm full of freedom.
Life was like a pond full of songs.

The child slowly tiptoed and disappeared,
Faded in the alley of the dragonflies,
I packed my bags,
And left the Lala Land,
With a heart full of grief,
For the exile of the dragonflies!

I walked to the party of the globe,
To the prairie of sorrow,
To the mystic garden,
To the ornamented light tower of science,
Then I climbed the stairway of the religion,
Until the end of the alley of doubt,
Beyond the cool breeze of ease,
To the moist misty night of kindness.
Then I soared away to visit someone,
On the other side of love.
I walked and I walked,
I walked to the woman,
To the light of delight,
To the silence of need,
To the loud sound of solitude.

I saw wondrous things on this earth:
I saw a child who was smelling the moon.
I saw a cage without the door, where the light was flying inside,
I saw a ladder which love was stepping on it up to the heavens,
I saw a woman grinding the light with the pestle in the mortar,
Cooking a lovely dish to dine for lunch,
On the table cloth, there was bread, herbs and the missing of the dew,
On the table cloth there was a bowl full of kindness and love.

I saw a beggar going door to door begging for canary’s song,
And a street sweeper praying to a melon peel in the street.

I saw a lamb eating a colorful kite,
I saw a donkey comprehending the fate of the grass,
I saw a cow so stuffed, in the grazing-ground of the advice.

I saw a poet who addressed the flower as “Your majesty”!

I read a book with words made of crystals,
I touched a paper, clothed from the spring,
I went to a museum far from the greens,
I went to a mosque far from the water to cleanse,
On the bed of a hopeless cleric, I saw a vase full of questions?

I saw a mule; his load was a sack of handwritten essays!
I saw a camel; his load was an empty basket of tales of morality!
I saw a mystic carrying a load of devout hymns!

I watched a train carrying wagons of light,
I watched a train moving heavily slow, pulling wagons of religious dogma,
I watched a train travelling empty with the wagons full of politics,
I watched a train carrying lily flower seeds and canary songs,
I saw wondrous things on this earth:
I saw a plane, high in the sky,
As high so you could see the earth from its windows:

The dance of the flowers in the wind,
The colorful spots on the butterfly's wings,
The picture of a frog playing in the pond,
The lonely fleeing of a fly in a forsaken lane,
The clear landing of a sparrow in the shade of a willow,
And the maturity of the golden rays of the sun,
And the love making of a doll with the fading shadow of the dawn.

I counted the stairs reaching to the greenhouse of passion,
I counted the stairs reaching to the alcohol fermentation cold-room,
I counted the stairs up to the roof of salvation,
I counted the stairs up to the column of lights.
My mother down there,
She was washing the glasses in the memory of the river.

I could see the town:
With its face of geometric shapes,
of cement, of iron, of stone,
And hundreds of buses with no pigeons on their roofs,
A flower vender had blooming flowers for sale,
In between two Jasmine trees, a poet was hanging a hammock,
A boy was throwing rocks at the school wall,
A child was spitting apricot seed on his father’s faded prayer rug,
A goat was drinking water from the Caspian Sea of the geography map.

A restless pair of bras was swinging from a laundry string in a balcony!

The carriage wheel in hope for a stalling horse,
The carriage horse in hope for a sleeping rider,
The carriage rider in hope for death!

From the heights above,
Love was visible, waves were visible,
Snow was there, friendship as well.
Words were there,
The water was there with reflections in its heart.
The shady place of cells in the spit of blood,
In the flood of life.
And the dawn of the human soul,
And the season of rambling in the alley of women,
And at the scent of solitude in the alley of season.

In the hands of summer, there was a fan!

And the journeys we took:
The journey of a seed to become the flower,
The journey of the vines from this house to the other,
The journey of the moon to its reflection in the pond water,
The explosion of the flower of envy from the soil,
The falling of the young vine from the wall,
The falling of dew on the bridge of sleep,
The jumping of happiness over the trench of death,
The passing of accident from behind the word.

And the battles we fought:
The battle of a tear with the desire of light,
The battle of stairs with the ascending base of the sun,
The battle of loneliness with the beauty of a song,
The battle of the beauty of the pears with the empty of a basket,
The bloody battle of the juicy pomegranate with the teeth,
The battle of Nazis with a delicate branch,
The battle of parrot and clarity together,
The battle of forehead and the prayer seal.

And the attacks we endured:
The attack of the mosque’s mosaic on the bow of devotion,
The attack of the wind on the innocence of the soap bubbles,
The attack of the army of butterflies on the pesticide program,
The attack of the marching dragonflies on the plumbers,
The attack of a battalion of black collagraphy pens on the lead written words,
And the attack of words on a poet’s jaws.

And the triumphs we celebrated:
The triumph of a poem over the frozen army of a century,
The triumph of a passer over the blocked gates of a garden,
The triumph of the two greetings over a shady lane,
The triumph of a few wooden cavalrymen over a well fortressed city,
The triumph of two dolls and a ball over the blandness of the Nowruz Persian New Year.

And the murders we witnessed:
The murder of a toy noisemaker by the mandatory afternoon nap mattress,
The murder of a tale by the alley of a nap,
The murder of despair by the dawn of a song,
The murder of the moonlight by the blazing neon,
The murder of a willow by the hands of the city mayor,
The murder of a poet by the thorns of a rose.

Everything on the earth was visible:
The order was leaving Greece,
The owl was hooting in the tower of Babel,
The wind, spinning in the Khaybar Pass, was pushing sands to the East,
On the peaceful Gem Lake, a sailboat was carrying freshly cut flowers,
In Banaras an eternal light was burning above every door.

I saw the people,
I saw the towns,
I saw the meadows, the mountains,
I saw the water, I saw the soil,
I saw the light and the dark.

I saw the plants in the light, and I saw the plants in the dark,
I saw the beasts in the light, and I saw the beasts in the dark,
I saw humans in the light, and I saw humans in the dark.

I am from Kashan,
But my town is not Kashan.
My town has been lost.
With excitement though sometimes with sadness,
I have built myself a home on the other side of the night.

In this home, I am close to the moist anonymity of the grass,
I can hear the breathings of the garden soil,
And I can hear the noise of night when it falls from the leaves.
And I can hear the cough of the day from behind the trees,
And the sneeze of the  water within every tear of the rocks,
And the singing of the birds,  in the roof of spring,
And the clear sound of opening and closing of the window of solitude,
And the clean sound of obscured skinning of love,
The condense urge of flying in the wings,
And I can listen to the cry of remorse that cracks under the expansion of soul.
And I listen to the chant of blood flowing in the veins,
And the heartbeat of the sun next to the nest of doves,
And the heartbeats of the Friday night.

I can hear the song of my life:
The journey of the carnation in the river of mind,
The screaming of the truth in the far horizons,
I Can hear the soft female breeze flying over the clouds,
And the footsteps of faith in the lone lane of joy,
And the song of rain played on the eyelids of love,
Played on the sad days of puberty,
Over the songs from the pomegranate fields.
And the breaking sound of the glass of happiness in the night,
And the ripping of the paper of the passing beauty,
Filling and emptying of the bowl of exile from the wind.

I feel so close to the beginning of the earth,
I take the pulse of the flowers.
I am so familiar with the moist fate of water,
With the green habit of trees.

My soul flows in the direction of rebirth of matter,
My soul is so young.
My soul sometimes gets so excited that it coughs.
My soul has not much to do,
So it counts the raindrops, the cracks on the walls.
My soul sometimes like a stone is seeking the path of truth.

I have never come across two pines in fight,
I have never seen a willow selling its shielding arms to the earth.
The elm-tree is setting its branch for free to the crow.

Wherever there is a leaf, I feel inspired and alive.
The thorns of the wild poppy flowers have bathed me,
in their dews of absolute life.

Like the wings of the flies,
I know the weight of the sunrise.
Like a flower pot in the wind,
I can hear the melody of growth.
Like a basket full of fruits,
I spin in the fever of arrival.

Like an empty tavern at the borders of boredom,
Like a building off the shore,
I stand worried of the revolting height of the water.

Sun, as much as you desire,
Ties, as much as you desire,
Multiply, as much as you desire.

I can be content with a bite of apple.
I can be content with the fragrance of the mint,
I am content with the clean light of the mirror,
I am satisfied with an honest friend.

I do not laugh at the burst of the balloon,
And I do not laugh if the prophet speaks of,
Dividing the moon into halves.

I recognize the sound of the friction of the quail’s wings,
I recognize the footsteps of the goat and the colors of the deer,
I know so well where the clusters of rhubarb grows,
And when partridge is about to arrive,
And when the pheasant will sing,
And when the eagle may die.

I know what the moon means in the desert dreams,
I know what death is in the branch of desire,
And the berry of delight in the stem of love.

Life is a pleasant rite.
Life is covered by feathers and wings,
Growing as vast as the silhouette of death.
Life has leaps as high as the summit of love.
Life is not something that you and I can forget,
on the obscure shelf of habits.
Life is a grasping hand that picks,
Life is the taste of the first harvest of figs,
In the bitter mouth of summer.
Life is the depth of trees in the eyes of insects,
Life is the adventures of a moth in the darkened air,
Life is the strange sense of a migrating bird.

Life is a train’s siren
piercing into the dreams of a bridge.
Life is seeing the glow of a garden,
from a barred window of a plane flight.
Life is the news of going to space,

Landing and sensing the loneliness of the moon,
Life is the thought of smelling flowers,
on the soil of another planet.
Life is washing a stained dish.

Life is finding a dime coin in the street stream,
Life is the square root of the mirror,
Life is a flower to the power of infinity,
Life is the pulse of the earth in the poundings of our hearts,
Life is the simple geometry of breathing.

Wherever I live, it does not matter, I will be there,
I will always own the sky,
The window, thought, air, love and earth are mine.
So, what does is matter,
If from time to time,
The exiled fungus of solitude may grow all around?

I do not know,
Why people say,
Horses are noble and doves are beautiful?
And why no one keeps vultures in the birdcage at home?
What does the clover bud, have less than a red tulip?
Must wash the eyes,
Must view with a different perspective.
Must wash the words.
Words must become the mere essence of the wind,
Words must become rain, on their own.
Must close the umbrellas,
Must walk under the rain.

Must wash our thoughts and memories under the rain.
With all the people of the city, must cleanse under the rain.
Under the rain, must see the true friend.
Under the rain, must find the true love.
Under the rain, must make love.
Under the rain, must play games.
Under the rain, must write words.
Speak of words, plant lotus flowers,
Life is a continuous saturation,
Life is swimming in the pond of this moment,
Let us take off our clothes,
Water is only a step away,
Let us taste the illumination!

Let us slip into the deer’s absolute night,
Let us weigh the silent sleep of the village,
Let us comprehend the warmth of the pelicans’ nest,
Let us not step on the rules of the grass,
Let us open the tie of our taste in the grapevine fields,
Let us open our mouth,
whenever we encounter the beauty of the full moon.

And we must not say the night is a bad thing,
And we must not say that the night does not have a clue,
About the wisdom of the garden.

And May we bring empty baskets,
And pick our share of so many reds and so many greens.

In the morning, we shall consume bread and cheese,
While planting trees within the curve of our words,
And may we still throw the seed of silence on the ground of talks.
And may we not read the books that do not let the breeze to come in,
And the books which in them the skin of the dew is not wet,
And the books which set the cells without the dimensions.

And why would we ask the flies to leave the nature alone?
And Why would we ask the Chita to drop out of the sight?
And comprehend that without worms,
Life would have been lacking an element!

And may we believe that without death,
we could be lost in an eternal quest.

And if there was no light,
The logic of flight would have turned upside down.
And the coral is born over the prayerful dreams of the seas.

And we should not ask where we are?
We should smell the fresh fragrance of the hospital’s petunias!
And we shall not seek the fountain of fortune,
And we can forget what the fathers of our fathers have done.
As I think that behind our steps there will not be life,
And behind our steps the birds shall no more sing,
And behind our steps the breeze stands still,
And behind our steps the windows are closed,
And the pines are asleep.

Behind our steps the dust sits on the face of the windmills.
Behind our steps, is the fatigue of the past history,
Behind the memory of the waves,
Lands the closing shells of sloth.

Let us go to the sea,
Let us throw our net in to the sea,
Let us capture the fresh of the water.

Let us pick a small stone from the shore,
Let us grasp the weight of reality.

Let us not blame the moonlight if we have a burning fever,
Sometimes with fever, I see that the moon steps down,
Hands can reach the gates of heavens,
I have seen the canary sings better.

And when I had a wound on my feet,
It taught me about the texture of the soil.
Sometimes when I was sick,
I felt the expansion of flowers around my bed,
And the thickness of the sour oranges,
And the diameter of the torch.

And let us not fear the death,
Death is not the end of a dove's flight,
Death is not the reversal of a journey,
Death flows in the mind of acacias,
Death lives in the peaceful shell of our thoughts,
Death speaks of the dawn in the spirit of the darkened town,
Death may be tasted along a ripe cluster of grapes,
Death can sing in a soulful voice of the throat.

Death is behind the striking beauty of the butterflies’ wings,
Death sometimes is picking sweet basil in the herb garden nearby,
Death sometimes may be drinking vodka,
Death sometimes sits in the shade and staring at us,
And we all know that our lungs full of desire,
Are filled with the oxygen of death!

Let us not close the door on our fate,
If we hear a strange noise from behind the curtains.

Let us open the curtains,
And expose our feelings to the fresh breeze,
And allow the wits, free to sit wherever it wants,
And allow the instincts to play, even barefoot,
Along the swift course of the seasons, jumping over the flowers,
Allow the solitude to sing, to write and to wander in the street.

Let us be simple,
Let us be simple in the bank or under a tree in the park.

It is not our destiny to discover the mystery of the red rose,
It is our destiny, maybe,
To always float into the charm of the rose.
Let us camp within the intelligence,
And wash our hands in the green truth of the leaves,
And walk towards our homes.

Every sunrise, we were born,
And allowed the excitement to fly,
over the perception of space, of color, of sound and of window,
We shall damp the flowers.

Let us invite the sky to sit in the blank space between our words,
Then let us breathe the air of eternity,
Let us take the weight of intelligence off of the dove’s wings,
And lie it down on the ground.

Let us regain the words from the clouds,
From the trees, flies and the summer.
Let us climb the wetness of the rain towards the height of the kindness and love,
And open the door to the humanity, light, plants and insects.

Let us follow the moist Footsteps of Water to the roots of love.

Perhaps we are only meant to,
Within the lilies and the century of run,
Chase after the song of the truth.

Poem: Sohrab Sepehri
Summer of 1964, Village of Plane Tree, Kashan, Iran

Translation: Ahreeman X
Winter of 2020, San Diego, CA, USA

Notes:
* Kashan: The birthplace of Sohrab Sepehri, a city in central Iran
* Tar: A string musical instrument of the Persian traditional music
* Silak: An archeological site in Iran
* Ka’bah: Prayer Direction and Holy Pilgrimage House in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
* Khaybar: A famous battleground of Prophet Muhammad in Saudi Arabia
* Banaras: City of Varanasi, an Indian port on the banks of Ganges River of India

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Sohrab Sepehri at Hyde Park, London 1969

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