Water's Footfall
by Sohrab Sepehri
translated by Kazim Ali

Born in 1928, over the course of his lifetime Sohrab Sepehri became one of the most renowned modern Iranian painters and poets, whose innovative lyric verse infused classic Persian poetry with the cadences of spoken language and often mingled the ordinary and natural with the mystical and divine. His haunting epic Water’s Footfall was written during a prolific period in 1964 following his journeys throughout China, India, and Japan. It chronicles the individual spirit’s journey, and is informed in equal parts by wild surrealism, a Sufi sensibility, and Buddhist and Hindu philosophies. In this new translation, Kazim Ali captures for an English-speaking audience the rapture in Sepehri’s rhythm and the breath that moves through his lines.

There’s modernism & then there’s modernism — depending on where you are. Sohrab Sepehri was in Iran, a modernist Muslim for whom the black stone of the Kaaba was the sunlight in the flowers. He tried to invent a world in poetry and a poetry in the world as had not been seen, oh, maybe since the Nishapur of Omar Khayyam. He made it new, indeed — writing a poetry that is a geometry of breath from which music grows, with its cargo of light. And it took someone of Kazim Ali’s lyrical powers to “English” Sepehri so that we can hear him today, loud and clear.
—Pierre Joris

 

 

 

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