Sunday, June 3, 2007

Don't muddy the water ...

Translated by Jerome W. Clinton.
Source: Words Without Border

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.


Naj said...

The only dance there is

nunya said...

This is a lovely poem. Is there double meaning in the original Persian?

Naj said...

In Persian poetry, there are "always" double or triple meanings.

Yes muddying the water also means confusing and complicating situations into chaos.

nunya said...

I watched the girl dancing. It was lovely to watch her smiling and comfortable.

So often when I see the Palestinian flag I feel guarded, tense, waiting for trouble, so that was a nice change.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly…” (1 Cor. 13:12)

pen Name

Mystic Rose said...

this poem is soo precious and profound and deep and still so simple. And so in connection iwht our daily practical life. I read this, from the information you had given me before. Thank you for posting it. I
would love to read more of his works. Thanks also, for the birthday wishes. I corrected the link so you can get to lily pad. :)

hugs sweety! its lovely having you for a friend.

betmo said...

muddying the water indeed

playground bullies push
picking, taunting smaller kids-
the world's a playground.

sorry that we are the 'world's policeman' aka bully.

i still haven't gotten all of my plants planted, but ripping up grass and smelling the freshly turned earth- takes me away for awhile from all of the bullying.

nunya said...


You've got to see this series. There has been a lot of condolences floating around the lefty blogosphere because of the passing of this blogger. I never read much of his blog before but I can't stop reading
Steve Gilliard's history of colonialism series is here:

David said...

When I read this poem, I thought of the White River that runs through Indianapolis. The city here has a very antiquated combined storm water and sewage system. When we get a lot of rain, the river floods, and it is truly disgusting!! The poem made me wish for a much cleaner river here.

The cleanest water I ever saw was a small mountain stream in Georgia. My boy scout troop camped there once. The area was a small patch of virgin forest (extremely rare in the Eastern U.S.!) with huge widely spaced trees. The water from the little stream was very cold and delicious. I have never tasted better water before or since.

Taking this poem literally, I think that it makes a very strong environmental statement. We should all think hard about what we do, the resources we use, and what and where we discard our refuse.

little indian said...

Lovely poem.

Specially the way the double meaning has been woven in.

Thanks Naj.

Naj said...

Glad you liked Sohrab too.
He didn't have it easy with the old-schoolers. His poems were considered too avant-garde. I think their simplicity confused people. I don't know. I just love him ... just as much as I love Forough and Shamloo.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Servant said...

Just beautiful. Just so. I love this poem. Thank you, Naj.

I also like your description at the top of the blog - in which peace comes through battle with the self.

Know thy self was always the old warning for philosopher's casting about for young minds, wasn't it? I used to perceive the self in the various chakras distributed throughout my frame like weigh stations on the way to consciousness. Know thy self is also a warning for travelers too. We can see ourselves in everyone wherever we travel. I no longer see where one self leaves off and another begins. Waves and water.

Aside - I caught a glimpse of the Democratic presidential debate on C-Span this afternoon. Wolf Blitzer of CNN was baiting the candidates to see who would be most willing to use force to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Of course Hillary was the most bellicose when talking about iran, pandering as she does to the Zionists. That's how she maintains her commanding funding lead.

But I was surprised by John Edwards response. He actually threw Blitzer's question away and returned to a question from someone in the audience. I like candidates who can put the media in their place.

Edwards said "that's the wrong question." He reminded the American audience that many Iranians showed great solidarity with the US after the 2001 attack and that Ahmadinejad isn't popular. Edwards pointed out how weak the government and the economy are and actually recommended that we should find constructive ways to help the people of Iran rather than think of Iran as a monolithic government. He said we need to find ways to talk instead of only thinking about military options.

Of course he had to end by feeding crumbs to the Zionists who want to hear: No responsible president could ever say that all options are not on the table.

I was quite shocked. I've been tuned out of this race because the only people who benefit from starting the presidential race this early are the pundits and the media companies who are going to get most of those campaign dollars for advertising. But I'm glad that at least one American candidate isn't thinking of Iran only through the Zionist lens.

Anonymous said...

what is the second meaning(s) ?

Naj said...

glad to see you here. Will come chat later.

Dunno. What is your "first" meaning?

Naj said...


I must say that I deeply fear a Hillary regime! However, just watching the way the world is going (all neo-conservatish ) I am afraid that the democrats will find themselves voting for a presidency candidate that resembles most the republicans (e.g. Hillary) in order to crush the latest resistance from the republican voters and get the power.

Is that Hillary's strategy and does she have a heart of dove inside? I do not know. The woman has shown herself capable of concealing her true emotions/intentions as evidenced by her husband's fiasco'ed life!

But as you, I am not following any of those stuff; there are so many more fun things to do in life than to mope over the politics of the world! And thus" Don't muddy the water" poem.

David said...

Ah, so you have revealed the hidden inspiration behind the poem. ;) The political waters are always muddy. Indeed, they usually resemble the White River in full flood stage!

I am not sure yet if Hillary is my favorite Democratic candidate. I like what Obama is saying, but I honestly feel he is too young and inexperienced. Something about John Edwards rubbed me the wrong way in the last election. He seems too slick. How about his $400 haircuts too! If he had been smart, right after that came out, he should have publically announced that he would be dropping by a small barbershop for a trim in every little town that he campaigns in. Barbers know all the local gossip. If you make a good impression on the barber, he will probably get you some votes!

Coffee Messiah said...

A beautiful poem and Thanks for sharing it!

Thanks too for your comments. For all the times I remembered to mention the Iraqis, I neglected this time. Seems the brain's pretty muddy after 5 yrs of this BS from gw & co! ; (

Naj said...



actually I wasn't thinking about Sohrab's political meanings, I thing for his period, he was the most apolitical of iran's modern poets.

Whenever I grow weary of protracting, politico-religious arguments, I take refuge in poetry. I write my own sometimes. Or have my husband recite something of Nika, Shamloo, Molavi to me. Sohrab and Forough are my recital instruments though. So ... I just imagined a village, a creek, happy children, watermelon farms, and traveled to my childhood, it was the beginning of the war, we were taking refuge in my grandmothers garden, at night we listened to Red-alert sirens, sat in pitch dark, stared at star-spangled sky of Iran, eying a moving object that would come after breaking of the sound barrier, waiting with sickness in stomach that after the sound our garden's barrier too will break, with a bomb ...
But then, there was morning again, and the green garden and the wine leaves and the creeck, and countless number of cousines, and the happy village ... and it was long ago.

I know. And I was rather commenting to the world who wants and end to "a war" that is not technically a war. I am pissed at all those who rallied behind George Bush after 911. The moment that the twin towers went down, my husband and I looked at eachother: A victory for Israel. 911 opened the middle east frontier for Cheney, something he has been scheming for since 1993 ... how could people not see it? how could they LET America go to war in the FIRST place? How could they call it a patriotic war? what happened to their Vietnam experience, when the American troops were deployed to save people from EVIL communism?!

So you see my friend? Had the Iraqis shown no resistance, this war would not have been considered a failure! Iraq would have become an easy colony of the US and George Bush would have remained the patriotic hero and no one would have rallied for end to colonization. Would any?

Forgive my cynicism ... it's the remembernce of my childhood memory of war that unleashed all this bitterness. The sancions ... Iranians didn't starve to death because of sanctions. But after the first gulf war, 500,000 iraqi children did. Where were the pacifists when Madelain Albright called that an unfortunate but a "right" price for meeting America's objectives? Does a war need to end only when American casualties reach a certain number?

5000 in twin towers, 4000 in Iraq versus ~700,000 Iraqis ... what on this earth makes American's life more valuable than the rest of the world? Is a father not the same in Iraq? Is not the safety of children who stare at sky awaiting a bomb to tear them apart as sacred as our over-protected suburban children in North America?

WHY did Bush'e popularity rise after a fraud election? Why did democrats rally behind him? Why didn't Americans REVOLT against the war with Iraq?

Why not THEN?

Why NOW?

Anonymous said...

hmmm.. first meaning is just "dont muddy the water for all those reasons.. "...
ha... now I have read the third comment (ur reply to nunya)... guess that is the second meaning.. :)
guess you cannot always completely explain some one else's poetry... eh?

Naj said...

I guess any poetry can be explained from ones very own perspective; and thus every poetry can become as many poems as there are people who interpret it :)

Anonymous said...

..... or that too :)

Coffee Messiah said...

naj: No problem with your feeling on the subject.

Fortunate for me, although I didn't live in a wealthy neighborhood, there was always a mix of people from many areas of the world and I never felt any need to look at anyone differently.

This wasn't from my family, it was an "inner" thing that I could not and never understood, even to this day.

Enough, just thought I'd check in once more. ; )

nunya said...


You keep asking why? Why? Why?

When you really look for the answers you will find them.

When you choose to go forth on that journey, make sure you have lots of other enjoyable things to read. Keep your fiction and poetry close at hand.

I guarantee you will not like what you find. If you are really looking for the answers, remember that not all of the anwers are "out there." I have discovered that some of the answers are "out there," and some of the answers are inside. Inside me. Inside every human being on the planet.


Naj said...

Nunya ... yes the answer lies within ... and thus Servant's statements about "the self" become paramount ...

Nah I don't feel like philosophizing now. I want to go cut my hair, which I just colored black :)

Anonymous said...

Did come to you that Afghanistan war and Iraq war, in botht wars Mullah helped US to achieve what they achieved?

Oh Iraq and Iraqis!!!,
who is the winner in this war Naj? Don’t cry like Crocodile "those Arab"

Naj said...

anonymous ... I have you IP address! Be a decent human and stop making noise here.

Fortunately for me, I do not subscribe to your racist attitude!

Buzz off now!

nunya said...

Wow, that's weird, after two years of red hair color (colour :), My hair is black also.

My therapist is supposed to help me with my depression, but I'm not too sure if this week she helped. She said I look pale (it's the black hair, probably.) I looked at her with a tear in my eye and said "There's gonna be a die-off." She said "Yes, there's going to be a die-off."

Bummer dude.

On the other hand, I can't tell you how gratful I am that I have a therapist who doesn't blow happy smoke up my butt.

I am not happy with the thought of Hillary as Prez. Kucinich looks like the best candidate so far to me, but...

Someone told me that anyone who wants to be a viable political candidate (nationally) in the US had better not say anything negative about Israel. After watching things for about 6 years, I believe him. Sad, but true, especially until the financing of elections changes.

Where are you getting your political information? Try Google. That's still free.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Wednesday, June 06, 2007 9:00:00 AM:

You have a point - it is the bloodshed in Iraq that saved Iran & Syria. For I have very little doubt without the chaos in Iraq, we would have been the next victims of the US neo-Imperialist projetc. I do not believe that we would have been defeated but it would have been a long hard war against US, UK, and assorted Protestant Christian states.

Thus, Iraq having saved us, we in Iran (and to an extent in Syria) will have to do our best to help Iraq in the coming years. We owe her a great deal.

pen Name

Naj said...


Our relation to Iraq is such a oedipal tragedy!

Iraq has two choices: surrender to Iran or surrender to US. the US and Iran will (have) come to realization that they need to share the turfs. And they will. (have you noticed the ABSCENCE of word Iran in your daily yahoo news?!)

This is a fuse for further conflicts. There will survive Saddamists and Arab nationalists who will revolt against the Perso-American influence ... just a question of time.

I am not going to play ignorant about the role of Iran in getting rid of Saddam. But I can understand it in as far as the logic of "revenge" works.

If IRI killed two birds with one stone, as a cold blooded observer of a game, I can only nod at their shrewd trickery.

But I feel pain for all the innocent people who are payng with their blood as the forced spectators of the battle of titans!

Anonymous said...


There is no US-Iran collusion on Iraq. We had nothing to do with the US War and the destruction of the Iraqi State.

However, we pursued a policy of active neutrality; actively against the interests of US and her allies while helping all those who were neutral towards Iran.

We do not seek a surrender of Iraq to Iran; we cannot control that society and we are not interested.

We want US to leave in defeat, we want that state to be dominated by the Shia, and we want no Arab Nationalism there.

Iraq will never ever again attack Iran or Kuwait or any one else. That is over.

With all our neighbours we want a situation that prevails in the Europen Union - peace, economic exchange, and mutual respect.

pen Name

Anonymous said...

we want that state to be dominated by the Shia, and we want no Arab Nationalism there.

Who gives you the rights to say so?

Pass my comment don’t be selective of passing my comment; don’t block my replies to your threats OK......

Naj said...

anonymous (grumpy one)

for the first time, I agree with you!

"we want this and that" is exactly what I call wishing for surrender of Iraq to Iran's political will.

Naj said...

grumpy anonymous: what threat?!

I just suggested that you should not be a chicken and hide under name anonymous ;) ... and also to buzz off!

Anonymous said...

What role has Iran been playing in Iraq?

Iran acted as America's silent partner during the Gulf War of 1991 and in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We need to engage the Iranians. Iran today is very different from the embattleled Islamic Republic of the early 1980s, with the vast majority of Iranians now clamoring for reform and democracy, and a widespread women's movement

A Q&A with author Yitzhak Nakash

Fleming said...

Naj, thanks for posting this very beautiful poem, which is haunting because it resonates on several levels and always hints at more.

Your commenters have mentioned its simplicity, which is one thing which makes it so memorable. It must be the simplicity which reminds me of haiku and some Zen poetry.

Anonymous said...

More Mud
Iran backs away from temporary marriages