Sohrab Sepehri

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Sohrab Sepehri
Born(1928-10-07)October 7, 1928
DiedApril 21, 1980(1980-04-21) (aged 51)
Tehran, Iran
Resting placeMashhad-e Ardahal, Kashan, Iran
Occupation(s)Persian poet and painter

Sohrab Sepehri (Persian: سهراب سپهری; October 7, 1928 – April 21, 1980) was a notable Iranian poet and painter. He is considered to be one of the five most famous Iranian poets who have practiced modern poetry alongside Nima Youshij, Ahmad Shamlou, Mehdi Akhavan-Sales, and Forough Farrokhzad.[1] Sepehri's poems have been translated into several languages, including English, French, Spanish, Italian, Lithuanian and Kurdish.


Sohrab was born in Kashan, Iran on October 7, 1928. He grew up in a family that was into art and poetry. His father worked in a post office and loved art. His mother loved poetry and art, too. When he was a child, his father suffered from paralysis and died in 1941. Sohrab missed his only brother who was his only playmate in childhood, too. He completed his elementary and secondary education in Kashan and moved to Tehran in 1943 to study at a teachers' college (Persian: دانشسرای مقدماتی). He worked as a teacher for a few years, then enrolled as a student in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran (Persian: دانشکده هنرهای زیبا) and graduated with honours. After finishing his education, he was employed in an oil company, which he left after 8 months. He soon published his first collection of poems named "The Death of Color", followed by a second collection, "Life Sleeps". Sohrab Sepehri was very talented in fine arts and his paintings were displayed in many European exhibits. His paintings are about nature; one of them was sold in Tehran in 2018. He is one of Iran's foremost modernist painters. Unfortunately, he moved to England for treatment, but he had to return Tehran because of the progression of his illness. Finally, he died in Pars Hospital in Tehran on April 28, 1980. He was buried in Kashan. Sohrab never got married and his grave is frequently visited by many art lovers.[2][3]

Sepehri travelled to many European countries. In Paris, he enrolled in a lithography course at the school of Fine Arts. However, after he stopped receiving a scholarship, he needed to work and make a living. He sometimes worked hanging from tall buildings to wash the apartments' windows.


Well-versed in Buddhism, mysticism, and Western traditions, he blended the Eastern concepts with Western techniques, thereby creating a kind of poetry unprecedented in the history of Persian literature. He had his own style of writing poetry, using short sentences rather than long ones, the latter having been frequently used in Persian poetry for centuries. To him, new forms were new means to express his thoughts and feelings. In one of his works called 'Footsteps of Water' or ‘The Water’s Footfall’, Sepehri introduces himself, his family, and his way of thinking in a poetic form. This poem which is written like a biography has two aspects: the inner and outer. The Inner aspect of this poem is about God's recognition through the beauty of nature. Sepehri beautifully explains that he doesn't blindly do his religious duties. In most of his poems, Sepehri introduces a new form of literature by using romanticism and symbolism. The beauty of his poems is seen through his evocation of nature and the use of tender and simple language. Abdolali Dastgheib, acclaimed literary critic and writer, believes that Sepehri reached great levels in poetic language following the publication of his later books such as ‘The Water’s Footfall’, ‘Traveller’ and ‘The Green Volume’. There are many examples of personifications, or symbols in his poetry.[4] In his poem "Let's not Spoil the Water", he talks about water, the necessary and basic element of life which people must keep clean. He used a special symbolism in these poems that makes the objects talk to the reader, rather than describing those objects.[5]

Sepehri's poetry is full of humanity and concern for human values. He also achieved a new technique in painting which is called Texture and was unknown to other painters for a long time. He used to create most of his pieces of art in isolated places like "Ghariyeh Chenar" and the deserts around Kashan. His poetry has been translated into many languages including English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Arabic, Turkish, Dutch and Russian.

The first known translation into English of Sepehri's long poem, Seday-e Pay-e Ab (صدای پای آب) by Abbas Faiz and Martin Turner was published as “Water’s Footfall” by Cambridge University Press in printed form in 1986.[6]

An English translation of Sepehri's selected poems by Ali Salami was published in 2003.[citation needed]


  • Born in 1928 – Kashan, Iran
  • He hosted a painting exhibition – Tehran, 1944
  • He published his first poetry book (The Death of Color) that followed by a few other books in the same year – 1951
  • He graduated from the fine arts university with Bachelor of Arts degree in painting from Honar-haye Ziba University,[7] Tehran – 1953
  • He translated some Japanese poetry into Persian and published them in a literary magazine called Sokhan – 1955
  • He travelled to Ghazvin and attended the Paris Fine Arts School in lithography – 1957
  • He travelled to Tokyo to further his studies in lithography and wood carving – 1960
  • He published three books in poetry – 1960
  • On the way back to Iran from Japan, he visited India and became familiar with the ideology of Buddhism – 1961
  • He travelled to India again and visited several cities and provinces – 1964
  • He travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan 1964
  • He travelled to Europe and visited several countries such as Germany, England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, and Austria – 1966
  • He published some long poems after he returned to Iran – 1966
  • He hosted a painting exhibition in Tehran – 1967
  • He published another book in poetry – 1967
  • He travelled to Greece and Egypt – 1974
  • He published his final, comprehensive book called Hasht Ketab (lit.'The Eight Books'), which was the collection of almost all of his published poems in one volume – 1976
  • He got Leukemia and travelled to England for treatment – 1978
  • Unfortunately, his attempt to defeat cancer brought him no result. He returned to Iran and died in Pars Hospital in Tehran on Monday April 21, 1980. Buried in Mashhad Ardehal, Kashan, Isfahan province, Iran.


  • Hasht Ketab (Eight Books) 1976
  • The Death of Color 1951
  • The Life of Dreams 1953
  • Us nil, us a look Was not published until 1977
  • Downpour of Sunshine 1958
  • East of Sorrow 1961
  • The Wayfarer 1966
  • The Green Space 1967 (A poem from this book: The Oasis of Now (1965) translated by Kazim Ali with Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, BOA Editions, 2013.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Behrooz, Anahit (30 March 2015). "10 Inspiring Iranian Poets and Their Verses".
  2. ^ "Mainpage : Sohrab sepehri : Great persian poet and painter , All about sohrab, his poems and paintings. Include Sohrab Fan, E-Card , Weblog".
  3. ^ Abdolali Dastgheib, 2006. The Green Garden of Poetry, Critical Review of poems by Sohrab Sepehri. Amitis Publishers, Tehran, Iran. ISBN 964-8787-08-5. (Title in Persian: باغ سبز شعر)
  4. ^ Roozbeh, Roohollah (2018-06-10). "William Wordsworth and Sohrab Sepehri: A Comparative Study of Identical Romantic Experience".
  5. ^ Dastgheib, Abdolali. The Green Garden of Poetry, Critical Review of poems by Sohrab Sepehri, 2006. Amitis Publishers, Tehran, Iran. ISBN 964-8787-08-5. (Title in Persian: باغ سبز شعر)
  6. ^ Faiz, Abbas and Turner, Martin (1986). ‘Water’s Footfall: a poem from the Persian’ in E.S. Shaffer (ed), Volume 8, Comparative Criticism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521331999.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ تبیان, مؤسسه فرهنگی و اطلاع‌رسانی (1 January 2019). "Sohrab Sepehri". سایت مؤسسه فرهنگی و اطلاع‌رسانی تبیان.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Lover Is Always Alone. Trans. Karim Emami. Tehran: Sokhan,
  • Sepehri, Sohrab, and Riccardo Zipoli. While poppies bloom: Poems and Panoramas. Trans. Karim Emami. Tehran: Zarrin-o-Simin Books, 2005.
  • Bidi, Hamed. "Where Are My Shoes?" While Poppies Bloom. 12 Oct 2006. 24 Oct 2000
  • Valiabdi, Mostafa. Hichestan.Tehran: Tiam, 2005.
  • Karimi-Hakkak, Ahmad. Hasht Ketab: Professor Hakkak's view on the Sepehri's esthetic vision and significance.United States: Ketabe Gooya, 2005.
  • Sepehri, Parvaneh. The Blue Room. Tehran: Gooya, 2003.
  • Sepehri, Paridokht. Wherever I am, let me be! Tehran: Peykan, 2005.
  • Sayar, Pirouz. Paintings and Drawings Of Sohrab Sepehri. Tehran: Soroush Press, 2002.
  • Sepehri, Paridokht. Sohrab, the Migratory Bird. Tehran: Tahouri, 1996.
  • Hamid Siahpoush. The Lonely Garden: Sohrab Sepehri's Remembrance. Tehran: Negah, 2003.
  • Abdolali Dastgheib. 2006. The Green Garden of Poetry, Critical Review of poems by Sohrab Sepehri. Amitis Publishers, Tehran, Iran. ISBN 964-8787-08-5. (Title in Persian: باغ سبز شعر.)
  • Martin Turner (1988) The poetry of Sohrab Sepehri, Wasafiri, 4:9, 18–21, doi:10.1080/02690058808574175. Retrieved from:

External links[edit]

Media related to Sohrab Sepehri at Wikimedia Commons