Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"Window, Mind, Thought, Air and Love"

Sohrab Sepehri's Raptuous Thoughts on Life

. . . I want nothing more than an apple
and the scent of chamomile.
Nothing more than a mirror and my dear other.
I would never laugh at the child when his balloon bursts.
It doesn't bother me when philosophers split the moon in half.
I remember the fluttering of quail wings,
the color of the crane's long belly, the little goat's footprints.
I know where the rhubarb grows,
when starlings migrate, when partridges sing,
to where falcons fly.
I know what the moon means,
in the dream of the desert,
muttering in its sleep.
I understand the language of ripe berries
bursting in the mouth of the climaxing lovers.

Life, that pleasant chore,
has wings and feathers wide as Death
and launches itself skyward searching for love.
Life should not be unmoving in our mind
like a jar on the habit-shelf,
just another little task on the list of things to do.

Life is like the hand that aches
to pluck June's not yet ripe figs.
Like a sycamore refracted in the fly's myriad eyes.
It is a bat flying in the dark,
the migrating bird's strange directional instinct.
Life is like a train blowing its whistle
in the daydreams of the lonely tunnel-bridge.
Like from the airplane's windows
it is a distant garden seen.
Newspaper coverage of a rocket launching spaceward.
An astronaut finally stepping down onto the lonely moon,
smelling flowers of a distant planet.

Life is like washing a dish.
Like finding silver coins shining in the gutter.

Life is the square root of the mirror.
Flower raised to the power of eternity.
Earth multiplied by our heartbeats.
The simple geometry of breath.

Wherever I am, let me be there.
The sky is mine.
Window, mind, thought, air and love,
this earth, this life are mine.

Sohrab Sepehri
Excerpted from "Water's Footfall"
as published in The Oasis of Now:
Selected Poems of Sohrab Sepehri

(translated from the Persian by Kazim Ali
and Mohammad Jafar Mahallati)
pp. 21-22

Write Kazim Ali and Mohammad Jafar Mahallati in the introduction to The Oasis of Now: Selected Poems of Sohrab Sepehri:

Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980) was trained as a painter. He traveled frequently around the world, including to East Asia, Europe, and the United States. In 1964 and 1965 he took a long trip through China and Japan, learning about Buddhism while studying woodworkng and painting. On his way back to Iran he stopped in India for several months. Upon his return home he wrote a rapturous poem called "Water's Footfall," a "lyric-epic" that shows marks of the influence of Islam and Sufi philosophy in addition to the Buddhist and Hindu philosophies and beliefs Sepehri was exposed to during his journey.

Sepehri is at home in the natural world, the phenomenological world that exists, and his God is neither bodiless nor remote, but incarnate in every piece of matter and as close as the nearest living thing. This experience of rapture floods the long prose lines of "Water's Footfall," which begins in a poetic autobiography recounting the death of the poet's father, his experience dealing with grief and doubt, and then growing up and leaving home: "I saw a man down at heels / going door to door asking for canary songs, / I saw a street sweeper praying, pressing his forehead on a melon rind."

This conflation of ordinary things, discarded things, with the spiritual and divine seems to suffuse the poem. . . . But here, the regular institutions of knowledge do not suffice. If Sepehri seems Sufi in inclination, it is the Sufism of Rabi'a, a faith of pure devotion that appeals. The institutions of learning and fixity and religious dogma the poet can do without.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Don't Go Back to Sleep
In the Dance of Light, Eyes of Fiery Passion
The Source is Within You
Called to the Field of Compassion
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence
The Impossible Desire of Pier Paolo Pasolini
A Return to the Spirit
Sufism: Way of Love, Tradition of Enlightenment, and Antidote to Fanaticism
Sufism: A Call to Awaken
As the Last Walls Dissolve . . . Everything is Possible
Clarity, Hope, and Courage
"Joined at the Heart": Robert Thompson on Christianity and Sufism

Images: Subject and photographer unknown.

1 comment:

Andwele said...

love this post. The pics too.