Conference of the Birds

Author: Fariduddin Attar Neishaburi


Translated by Manavaz Alexandrian






Fariduddin Attar Neishaburi, the celebrated Iranian poet and mystic, lived who lived during 11th century A.D. and was killed during Mongol invasion, is the author of many important mystical works including Manteq-u-ttair or the Conference of the Birds


Composed in iambic hexameter the poet, like a mystic who has traveled the mystical path towards perfection skillfully points to the stages of evolution of the soul and the sentiments of seekers of divinity. He summons his lovely birds to warble his main theme with masterly mystic definitions. Here Attar follows Solomon's tradition who knew the language of birds. He puts tongue in the mouths of birds and enables them to warble and chatter and fly high and high towards Mount Ghaf, a legendary topless mountain in Caucuses, in search of the invincible Simorgh or the Absolute One. In the different passages Attar describes the path a mystic must tread to reach perfection and the birds discuss them in detail and in moving words. Fired with love of union with the Simorgh (thirty birds) the pilgrims face many difficulties to pass the seven valleys of love and out of some hundred thousands only thirty birds arrive at the majestic court of the Prince of Universe. Here they see an enormous phantom mirror which reflects their own shapes and character. They are purified and molten to divinity



The following are selected parts from the Conference of the Birds



The birds assemble to choose a king vote for hoopoe, Solomon's messenger

All birds in the world in an assembly met

And let out all that was known or was secret

All said, in such times that turmoil is shaking

No town is empty of a sovereign king

Now that no ruler reigns our blessed land

It is unfit to loiter without a command


Hoopoe opens the conference

  The hoopoe long awaiting and in unrest

Entered the meeting nervous and distressed

A cloak he was wearing pointing to the road

And a crown on his head that to truth did nod

He said: "O birds I am free of cheat and fraud

I am both letter-bearer and messenger of God

Well informed of all the saints, I am a page

By nature quickened, I know the secret knowledge

In Solomon's court I presided the levee

I was his messenger though sometimes heavy

For years I have scored land and ocean

For years I've endured pain and commotion

With Solomon I've traveled - the wise king

With him I have searched the world wandering

A king we own indeed, pure and blameless

Beyond on the Mount Ghaf dwells his highness

His name is Simorgh, he is the birds' king

He is near us yet afar we seek him rambling



The story of Simorgh

  "At beginning,  O wondrous to relate

At China Simorgh showed His majestic state

At midnight a feather from the bird fell

The tale was spread at every mount and dale

Since neither his head has been seen or his feet

'Tis unfit to describe Him, 'tis not discreet

Now you who've the will (and can do the thing

Look on the road  ahead and stretch your wing




Hoopoe describes the Simorgh (Phoenix) & the birds commence the journey             

  Now all the birds restless to see the king,

Became eager to commence and stretch their wing

His love inflamed their souls to the mission

But since the road was too far and remote

Each had a dread of the dubious route



The Nightingale's prefers the rose and wants to stay

  To me the secret of love is over - is over

All the night I rehearse my love in the bower

The reed that cries bewails my emotion

The lute that groans murmurs my passion

Meadows echo with my song and in game

The lover's heart I fill the fatal flame

I am so fallen in love with the fair rose

That am wholly lost in my self I can't take my repose


The birds mention many pretexts to avoid the journey. Hoopoe rebukes them

  You nagging buggers, refuse of sewers

How can poor cowards become true lovers

O beggars! till when you must be wailing

Loving cannot be done with fraud and failing

The face of all birds in the revolving globes

Reflects Simorgh's shadow, you fools and fops

And if the phoenix hides himself, behold

No shadow will appear in the world

Friends, hear me, cease to lament the strife

He who falls in love care not for his life



Hoopoe describes the seven valleys of love

   We've seven valleys to cross," the hoopoe said

And when we cross the fields, we'll knock at His gate

No one has returned from the valleys to Earth

No one is aware of its distance and girth

First the vale of desire we must score and the grove

Then we must plough the fatal valley of love

The third is the valley of knowledge and science

The fourth leads to the valley of independence

The fifth is the vale of unity, then yonder

In sixth lies the perilous vale of wonder

And in seventh the vale of doom you'll trace

From thence no path remains for you to chase

Then sucked by doom you'll forget mode and motion

If a drop you will expand to an ocean.


Convinced of hoopoe's reasoning the birds agree to fly to Simorgh:

  When such hoopoe spoke to the winged nation

All prepared themselves to die for the mission

The Simorgh had robed their hearts, they were burning

Their love multiplied for the Prince and for learning




When arrived the chamberlain describes secrets of Creation

  Now the breeze of kindness blow, opened the gate

And each breath opened hundred doors in the state

All were  set at  His vicinity, at the bank

All were laurelled with dignity and rank

There a sheet of marvelous scroll was laid

Read your fates, read!," a hidden voice said

And lo! when the birds looked at the marvelous sheet

A sheet written by heavenly scribes, pure and neat

All they had done, behold, there was painted

From the start till their miseries ended

From fear and shame all shivered, they all pined

Their flesh debased with shame but the soul shined

And when wholly purged of sins in the province

They were all bestowed with new life by the Prince


  Hear, mortals, hear - they heard a voice in horror

The Prince of Heaven is but a shining mirror

Whoever arrives here sees his image  whole

The flesh sees the flesh and the soul sees the soul


After much pleading they dissolve in the divine mirror:

  They dissolved into a life they vanished

The shadow was lost in the shining disk, was banished

And while they faded such was heard of the crew

"Neither heads remains here, nor body or hue



+ نوشته شده توسط Manavaz Alexandrian در 17 Jul 2010 و ساعت 15:7 PM |

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