Sohrab and Simorgh By Nader Naderpour Translated by Farhad Mafie
SOHRAB AND SIMORGH1By Nader Naderpour, February 1984
Translated by Farhad Mafie, June 2001
A few words about this poem [by Nader Naderpour]:
Sohrab Sepehri died in 1981 (1359). We were planning on the morning of his death, Mehdi Akhavan Saless and I, to visit him in the hospital, but before our departure, we read about his death in Bamdad (morning edition).
My friend Dr. Mohammad Hossain Mostafavi and I visited his grave twice at Mashhad-ardahal, which is a village near Kashan. Based on his request (in his will), Sohrab Sepehri was buried under the brick floor of the yard with no gravestone on his grave; only the change in the color of the brick floor hints of his will.
This poem is a memory of those two visits. I used a few consecutive lines from “Address” [“Neshani”], a few scattered lines from “Water’s Footsteps” [“Jaye Paye Abe”], and a few lines from Sohrab’s other poems in “Sohrab and Simorgh” in an effort to recapture the conversations I often shared with this old and dear friend.
Now, several years have passed since Sohrab’s death. Kashan, the city that he liked, is no longer the same city. But the poem and the image of Sohrab are still the same: colorful and desert-like.
I hope “Sohrab and Simorgh” brings back to the fans of this orator–artist the memory of both his name and his poems.
In Memory of Sohrab Sepehri
I was returning from your grave:
The pure earth held you within it
The sky was a blue lamentation
The field had the color of sadness and ashes
In my thoughts, you were a sparkling spring.
Under the dome that looked like a green head
grown from the middle of the summit’s shoulder,
on the red brick floor of the yard
continuously burning from the desert sun:
some water from the jar, as you would say, had poured on the ground.
Under that damp spot you were hidden,
Your grave had no tombstone
You were as anonymous as the desert’s flowers.
Ah, Sohrab! At the beginning of your prominence
Who knew that
after a few breaths—following the spring celebration—
you would say the final farewell to the world with closed lips.2
Who knew that
after all those awakenings
you were going to sleep on the dark night of earth’s forgetfulness?
Ah, maybe you were aware of this disturbing sleep.
As I came down from the summit to the plain,
I stood up to watch the horizon:
Birds with white wings
were writing on that blue tablet:
O! You, who have learned art! Your pens
are the stubs of our feathers.
Our fallen feather is the cause of your flying.
From that height—which was the flight path of the birds—
to below where you are sleeping in its depths,
I looked and saw the difference from here to there.
O! You, the friend who was also amazed by that distance:
The desire to fly was moving your pen,
you were the epitome of flying to the human mind.
You descended from two fathers:
On earth, from Sohrab
in eternity, from Simorgh.
The cursed name of the champion,3 O, friend!
threw you on the ground and killed you.
Even though from the other side, you were inherited from Simorgh,
from the immortals,
from the Ghaf4 generation.
One night in sleep, I asked you once sarcastically:
By the way, where is Sohrab’s house?5
You pointed to an old white aspen
and laughingly told me:
“Before you get to the tree
there is a garden path that is greener than God’s sleep,
and in there, love is as blue as the feathers of honesty.
You go to the end of the road where childhood’s truthfulness ends and
In the floating space of sincerity
you will hear a rustle
you will see a child who
has climbed a tall pine tree
to pick up a young bird from a nest of light,
and you will ask him:
By the way, where is Sohrab’s house?”6
He will tell you
that from the beginning of time
I have built a house on the other side of the night.7
And this sign will remind you
that one night, O, friend!
You were a guest in that unrecognized house.
I responded to you unhappily
that you have come from the immortal lonesomeness of heaven.
That’s why in your heavenly vision
the picture of the earth’s face is dark.
The evidence of the influence of time is not obvious.
You are speaking neither from the past nor from the future
nor from history.
That’s why you are not addressing me directly.
You looked at me and responded,
Don’t talk to me from the past and the future.
I am not aware of the divisions of time.
I have neither birth at the beginning
nor death at the end:
I have come from the horizons of eternity
I will be gone to the end of eternity.
But I always have talked with you
from the first day
you were eloquent before you were born.8
You were telling the truth and I knew it.
That in this astonishing century
you and I, one sooner one later, each in our turn,
have come into this world.
I am upset at the cruelty of destiny
and you are running from the infidelity of time.
You were going from one point in time to another.
Your earthly existence
was just a pause between two trips.
That’s why your city was different from Kashan9
even though you were from Kashan.
To you, the term “death” did not mean “the end”
that’s why in the book of life
you did not consider death as the end point.
That’s why at the moment of your father’s farewell
your optimist eyes
were seeing all the world’s cops as poets10
poets—as patient as the water—
as carefree as the light,
were seeing all next to God’s throne.11
Your eyes had cosmic vision
because in the religion of love,
you were the messenger of mysticism.
Morning in your eyes:
the laughter of a bunch of grapes in the vineyard’s darkness.
Life: the coming of the first black fig
in the acrid mouth of summer.12
And the train coming from the morning land
took the water-lily seeds and the canary’s song
to the edge of eternity.13
The wave was stealing the wandering petal of acacias
from the edge of the river.
You were listening to the entertainment of the swallows in the heart of the ceiling
and you were laughing.
You were picking God’s unripe fruit with fingertips of desire
from the young trees.14
You were seeing death like a newborn cancer
in the bottom of the running water.15
Suddenly, someone called from faraway: Sohrab!
You jumped up and screamed: Where are my shoes?16
And then you left the house and with the speed of the wind
you were under the rain.17
My disturbing sleep was over
and in that pure noon
I was coming back from your grave:
The pure earth had you inside it
The sky was a blue lamentation
The field had the color of sadness and ash
For a few moments in the horizon of thoughts
I saw you and became tearful
you saw me and you were smiling.
Nader Naderpour, Paris, February 1984.
[From the collection Blood and Ashes (Khoun va Khākestar).
Translated by Farhad Mafie, June 2001.]
- 1Translator: This poem (along with the poet’s introductory paragraph and notes) was published in the first issue of Omid Magazine (Los Angeles, California), 1985, p. 50.
- 2Sohrab Sepehri passed away at the beginning of Spring 1981 (1359), one month after the Noerouz celebration.
- 3Translator: A reference to Rostan, the “champion” in Shahnameh.
- 4Translator: “Ghaf” refers to the mythical mountain home of Simorgh.
- 5This line is from the beginning of the poem “Address” [“Neshani”] by Sohrab Sepehri:
Where is the friend’s house?
It was in the morning twilight that the rider asked
- 6All the lines in italics are from the poem “Address” [“Neshani”].
- 7From the collection The Sound of Water’s Footstep [Sedaye Paye Abe] by Sohrab Sepehri.
- 8Translator: Sohrab believed in timelessness. Here Sohrab says that he has spoken with Naderpour throughout eternity, even before Naderpour was born.
- 9From the same collection: “I am from Kashan, but my city is not Kashan” [“Ahle Kashanam, AmMa, Shahr-e man Kashan Nist”].
- 10From the same collection: “When my father passed away, all the cops were poets.”
- 11From the poem “Behind the Seas”: “Poets are the heritage of water, knowledge, and lightness.”
- 12From the collection The Sound of Water’s Footstep [Sedaye Paye Abe] by Sohrab Sepehri.
- 13From the same collection.
- 14From the same collection.
- 15Sohrab Sepehri had blood cancer.
- 16The beginning of the poem “Address” [“Neshani”].
- 17From the collection The Sound of Water’s Footstep [Sedaye Paye Abe] by Sohrab Sepehri.
For information, contact Farhad Mafie at email@example.com or at (+1) 949-356-2399.