Persian Poetry: Eyes Must Be Rinsed

A Column

By Mehdi Bagheri

Eyes Must Be Rinsed

I don’t know why they call

Horse, a noble being?

Pigeon, a pretty bird?

And why no vulture is

In anyone’s birdcage?


Why a clover

Is inferior to a red tulip flower?


Eyes must be rinsed

Something else must be seen


Words must be rinsed

The word must be the wind

The word must be the rain itself

Umbrellas must be closed


One must walk in the rain

One must carry

The thought

The memory

Into the rain


With all the townsfolk

One must walk in the rain


One must see a friend

In the rain

One must search for love

In the rain

One must make love

In the rain

One must play

In the rain


One must write

One must talk

One must plant Morning Glory

In the rain


Life is getting incessantly wet

Life is swimming in the pool of the present


One must take off the dress

Water is a step away

-Sohrab Sepehri

(Translated by Mehdi Bagheri)

Sohrab Sepehri is one of the most prominent contemporary Persian poets and painters whose style of poetry is regarded as modern in Persian literature. Sepehri’s love for human values, nature and the environment in his poetry gets its influence from Buddhism and the mystical concepts that are artfully fused with some western traditions. His poetry was probably influenced after travelling to Japan for studies and later through India where he got to know more about the Buddhist ideology. It is worth noting that he even translated Japanese poetry into Persian and published them in a literary magazine called Sokhan or The Word.

In the poem Eyes Must Be Rinsed, Sepehri stands against the manmade clichés about the environment and tries to redefine what we as humans regard as the only icons of beauty and value in nature. He reminds us that beauty and value can be found in every single part of the living world. He calls on us to clear our eyes in order to see differently. Rinsing eyes, however, is an imagery of thinking differently. It resembles cleansing of thoughts, words and the soul by nature’s elements of purity- that is water.

Later in the poem, Sepehri persuades the readers to walk in the rain so that they may find the delight of life that’s seeing friends, searching for love, making love, playing, writing, talking and at last planting the seeds of a flower.

Nearing the end, Sepehri’s words on the meaning of life can be translated as being synthesized in elements of nature for which water is magnified amongst other components.

It would be great if we could start looking at our environment in a different manner and appreciate every element of it like Sepehri did and to pass that mentality into our future generations for them to inherit new ways of seeing and being in a state of nature.