Parliament of the Birds

Parliament of the Birds by Farid Ud-Din Attar, translated by Edward FitzGerald, with images from a painting by Habiballah of Sava

In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their king, as they had none. The hoopoe, the wisest of the birds, suggests that they should find the legendary Simurgh - a benevolent, mythical bird in Persian mythology. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represents a human defect which prevents mankind from realising enlightenment. When the group of birds finally reach the dwelling place of the Simorgh, they find a lake in which they see their own reflection.

Manṭiq-uṭ-Ṭayr, also known as Maqāmāt-uṭ-Ṭuyūr known in English as 'The Conference of the Birds' or 'Speech of the Birds' (or by several other names) is a Persian poem by Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar (c. 1145 – c. 1221), commonly known as Attar of Nishapur. The Book is embellished with images created by Habiballah of Sava (Iranian, active ca. 1590–1610).

Edward FitzGerald (31 March 1809 – 14 June 1883) was an English poet and writer. Upon his death, he left in manuscript a version of Attar of Nishapur's Manṭiq-uṭ-Ṭayr. This last translation FitzGerald called "A Bird's-Eye view of the Bird Parliament", reducing the Persian original (some 4500 lines) to 1500 lines in English. Some have called this translation of Mantiq al-tayr a virtually unknown masterpiece.

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