Category Archives: poetry


Washing dishes in the village of Lavason, Iran. All rights reserved.

Let’s not muddy the water.
Imagine that close by a dove
is drinking from it,
or in a distant grove a finch
is washing its wings in it,
or in some village it fills a storage jar.

Let’s not muddy the water.
Perhaps this flowing stream runs
by the foot of a poplar tree
and eases some heart’s grief.
A dervish, perhaps,
has moistened his crust in it.

A young woman stood on its bank—
the water doubled her beauty.
Let’s not muddy the water.

How delicious this water is!
How refreshing this stream!
Those people who live upstream,
how fortunate they are!
May their springs be ever fresh,
their cows always fertile!
I haven’t seen their village,
But surely, God’s foot is on
their threshing floor and
the moonlight there illuminates
the width of their words.
The walls are low in the village upstream.
Blue there is really blue.
When buds blossom, they know, those people.
What a village it must be!
May its streets be filled with music!

Those people by the stream
Have left it clear.
Let’s not muddy the water.

-Sohrab Sepehri


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On the way to a conference last week, I was faced with a more or less challenging situation: an intense dialogue among a few colleagues about the significance of different cultures in world history and development.  This is a complex topic and it’s hard to make simple conclusions on the matter.  I want to write about this experience though, not because I am after advertising or defending a particular nation or want to offend others.  This is simply my way of alleviating pain after hearing highly ignorant and uneducated remarks by supposedly educated individuals in the United States.


I was faced with the question of “who contributed the most to our history” or “whose work we should look for when studying the history of art, philosophy, poetry, architecture, literature, and so on.”

I have often noticed that Europe stands out in the American version of history in many different fields.  For example, I happened to take introductory courses to political philosophy and architecture history at Cornell University as an undergraduate student.  I can confidently say that the majority of topics covered were related to Rome and Greece and some times Great Britain. I, like many other students, left our class thinking that these concepts were first introduced by these nations only and others were mostly followers.  Plato’s Republic was introduced to us as a book that marked the beginning of philosophy and political dialogue and such ideas seemed to begin in a society where thinking and logic were encouraged for the first time. Democracy was shown to be the most mesmerizing concept in a world of chaos. We were introduced to every famous architectural piece in Europe and briefly reviewed a few others (i.e. Ancient Egypt, Japan, and India) in the last couple weeks of the class.  Even specialized courses tend to be biased and negative towards eastern nations, following the language used in ancient Greek historical records.  


I was faced with the same dilemma in the car last week. 


Cyrus’ Cylinder: Considered as History’s First Declaration of Human Rights
in Ancient Times is today displayed at the British Museum.
©British Museum, London


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Filed under Africa, America, art, culture, development, India, Iran, lessons, literature, poetry, popular culture, sociology, traditions, War

hamed nikpay

A remarkable talent and an amazing voice: Hamed Nikpay’s music takes me back to Tehran’s old “khocheh baagh’s” (narrow streets separating beautiful gardens of Tehran), the remains of which can still be found in places like Darband or Maghsood Beig.  At the same time, his music amazingly represents a multi-cultural background and his recent songs show a strong Indian and Spanish (Flamenco) influence.  I’m desperately waiting for his new CD that hasn’t been released yet, but to get a glimpse of what he’s about, here is one of his most beautiful songs.  However, nothing can prepare you for the new CD that is going to come out soon.  Enjoy: 


Filed under culture, Iran, music, poetry, Uncategorized

khalil gibran


A whirling dervish or Semazen in Turkey

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.


Filed under love, poetry