Ali Salami

Sohrab Sepehri: Smoke Rise [Doud Barmikhizad]

Smoke Rise [Doud Barmikhizad]

Smoke rises from the cave of my solitude.

Who could fathom the ruins I carry?

I speak to my inwardly burned self.

When will my story reach its end?

I have withdrawn my hand from the cloak of night

To cling to the braids of dawn as my hope.

From the shore I have plunged into the water,

Not knowing how deep the ocean is.

On the skin of the walls, patterns of fractures.

No other hue can be seen in this room.

Day and night the imagination sews

From the heart to the canvas of hope it goes.

Since I entered this dwelling,

I have strayed from the path of the caravan.

Though the fire of the soul burns through me,

My heart remains faithful to that fire.

The darkness slowly retreats from the rooftops:

Morning smiles on the way to my city.

Still, smoke rises from my seclusion.

I reunite with my inwardly burnt self.


© Ali Salami 2010

Also by Sohrab Sepehri: In the Tar of Night [Dar Qir-e Shab]

About Sohrab Sepehri

Sohrab Sepehri was a well-known Iranian poet, painter and sculptor. He is considered one of the most influential figures in modern Persian poetry. Sepehri was born in 1928 in Kashan, Iran. He studied painting at the University of Tehran and later traveled to Europe, where he came into contact with Western art and literature.

Sohrab Sepehri’s poems are characterized by their simplicity, clarity and use of natural imagery. He often wrote about the beauty of the natural world and the human experience of it. His work is also known for its philosophical and spiritual themes. Sepehri’s paintings and sculptures are also highly regarded and are often exhibited in galleries around the world. The collected poems of Sohrab Sepehri have been translated into English by Ali Salami.


Most of Sohrab Sepehri’s poems are written in the neo-poetry style. His poems have original and creative illustrations. By learning from Zen philosophy and his humanistic outlook, he arrived at a new style, of which “the green ribbon” is considered an evolution of his unique style. He created his artworks in seclusion and away from society; therefore, he chose the “village of Chenar” ” and the desert of Kashan to achieve his solitude. Sohrab Sephari’s poetry is full of original and fresh visions, which he describes with a soft, gentle, clear and coherent language. Some of his most famous poems are: Nashani, Sadye Paye Aab and Musafir, one of the longest Persian poems in the style of neo-poetry.


In painting, he was inspired by the esthetic achievements of the East and the West. He used such a new and different approach that his pea-shaped geometric forms and gray colors were different from all contemporary figurative painters. He had developed a concise, semi-abstract style suited to express his poetic revelations in the wilderness. Sepehri exhibited most of his paintings at the Seyhon Gallery” and never attended the opening ceremony. The more Sepaheri’s painting progressed, the less it appeared through the direct control of the brush, and in his last works it is more of an improvised behavior using non-traditional painting tools. His signature on his paintings is in Nastaliq script, which according to Morteza Momayez shows his humble and Iranian spirit. “Dead Nature” in 1957, “Anemones, Stream and Tree Trunk” in 1960, “Grass and Tree Trunk” in 1962, “Composition with Colored Stripes” in 1970, “Composition with Squares” in 1972 and “Desert Landscape” in 1978 are some of his most famous paintings. Sepehri holds the record for the highest price for modern Iranian paintings. In 2013, two of his paintings (Tree Trunks and an abstract painting) were sold for one billion and eight hundred million tomans.

When Sohrab Sepehri was diagnosed with leukemia in 1979, he went to England for treatment, but returned to Tehran hopelessly due to the severe course of the disease. He finally died on the evening of April 29, 1980 in Pars Hospital in Tehran and was buried in the courtyard of Imamzadeh Sultan Ali Ebn Mohammad Baqer in the village of Mashhad Ardahal near Kashan.

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