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Sohrab Sepehri poem

Translated by Ahmad Sadri
June 8, 2001
The Iranian

I should be glad of another dearth.
-- T.S. Eliot.

A few days ago I lost a colleague (Joseph Yeh, 1970-2001) to a drowning accident. I translated this famous Sohrab Sepehri poem for him. It is called "Doost" and starts with: "Bozorg bood va az ahaalie emrooz bood / Va baa tamaame ofogh-haaye baaz nesbat daasht..." I am sure you are familiar with it. I think this is Iran's answer to W.H. Auden's famous "Funeral" that was recited in the film, "Four Weddings and A Funeral".

He was great
And a native of these days
And a kinsman of all open horizons.

And the undertones of water and earth, he understood these well.

His voice
Was shaped like the scattered sadness of reality.

His eyelids
Underlined the pulse of the elements.

His hands
Leafed through the clear air of generosity
And sent a swarm of kindness swimming
Our way.

He was shaped like his own solitude
And he made mirrors understand
All the lovely curves of his loneliest moments.

He was full of the freshness of repetition
Just like rain.

He opened up in the sanctuary of light
Just like a tree.

He always beckoned the boyhood of the wind.
He always fastened the string of conversation
To a latch of water.

One night
He uttered the green rapture of love
With such candor
That we ran our fingers along the surface of earth's emotions.
And were refreshed
Like the accent of a bucket of water.

And many times we saw him
Taking baskets aplenty
To pick a cluster of good tidings.

But it was not to be
That he continue to sit facing
The lucidity of the doves.

He went and laid down
Behind the patience of the lights

And he did not think
How lonely he left us
To bite into an apple
In the confusion of naming so many doors.

-- Thursday, May 31, 2001

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