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This poem dramatizes the conflict between knowing there is a god and being one with God. In Farid Ud-Din Attar’s poem The Conference of the Birds, the birds are seeking a king and feel as if their nation needs some form of leadership. To find God, they battle mystery, poverty, and much more just to arrive at the conclusion that they are God. This is an example of Sufism, a Muslim belief whose followers seek to find divine truth and love through direct encounters with God. The poet describes Sufism through his unique writing style and use of syntax.
This is an Islamic, religion-based poem that follows the rhyme scheme aabbcc and ten syllables per line. Attar took his time writing this poem to truly detail Sufism and all its beauty. At some points, the poem displays the qualities of a soliloquy. For example, in lines fifty-five and fifty-six when the Simorgh says “The journey was in Me, the deeds were Mine–/ You slept secure in Being’s inmost shrine,” but then goes on to say in line sixty-two, “You find in Me the selves you were before.” It’s almost as if there is an inception of birds since God is speaking to them, yet they are God.
That the poet decides to name God “Simorgh,” is an example of Sufism. Simorgh literally translates to “thirty birds,” with “Si,” meaning “thrity” and “morgh” being the Persian word for “birds.” Attar makes it obvious that the birds are God but still mysterious at the same time. Almost like life for individuals. God makes it obvious that He is here for His people, but sometimes it can be hidden by trials and turmoil. The birds go through their journey and don’t realize that they are being protected by the one most high.
Focusing on lines fifty-one through sixty-two in “The Birds Discover the Simorgh,” the reader is able to sum up Sufism in a more general form. Lines fifty-five and fifty-six describe how God makes them experience many trials, but He keeps them safe while doing so. This reinforces the idea that even though life isn’t always wonderful, you’re taken care of. Lines fifty-seven and fifty-eight elaborate on how they came as thirty birds, but only see God when they see themselves. In Sufism, finding unity with God is finding ones self and Attar captured this in his poem. The Simorgh goes on to say in lines fifty-nine to sixty-two, “The Simorgh, Truth’s last flawless jewel, the light/ In which you will be lost to mortal sight,/ Dispersed to nothingness until once more/ You find in Me the selves you were before.” These lines explain that in death you find God, which is a new form of yourself. Heaven for Sufists is not the modern heaven people believe it to be. In the Sufism belief, heaven is a just the realization that everything is God and an expression of His love.
The poem draws towards a close with the statement, “The substance of their being was undone/ And they were lost like shade before the sun.” Once the birds reach the realization that they are one with God, they die and go to place where they live again with God. The poem ends with, “The Simorgh ceased to speak, and silence reigned.” The Simorgh ceases to speak because the birds are the Simorgh and they are now dead. The poet explains Sufism through beautifully written poetry and a very creative use of words to illustrate the journey Sufists face.
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