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The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis
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The Conference of the Birds (edition 2011)

by Peter Sis

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659414,584 (4.13)27
Member:msf59
Title:The Conference of the Birds
Authors:Peter Sis
Info:Penguin Press HC, The (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 160 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:graphic

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Conference of the Birds by Farid al-Din Attar

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Showing 4 of 4
These poems about, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their king, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh, a mythical persian bird roughly equivalent to the western phoenix. It is an allegory of the quest for God (The Simorgh). The hoopoe respresents a sufi master and each of the other birds represents a human fault which prevents man from attaining enlightenment. When the group of thirty birds finally reach the dwelling place of the Simorgh, all they find is a lake in which they see their own reflection.
( )
  ariesblue | Mar 31, 2013 |
It's a collection of poems with some gorgeous language and good stories!
  booksofcolor | Jul 10, 2009 |
The writings of the Sufis are, without a doubt, some of the most beautiful and challenging spiritual works in existence. Rumi's works are currently undergoing something of a renaissance in the Western world but the name of Farid Ud-Din Attar is not as well known. This is unfortunate, since The Conference of the Birds provides, in my opinion, a much better insight into Sufi philosophy than the bits and pieces of Rumi floating about the New Age universe.

Attar's beautiful descriptions, exquisite metaphors and delightful parables describe the stages on the soul's journey to union with God. An extended metaphor for the soul, the birds gather and travel through various valleys to reach the Simorgh - a state of ecstatic oneness with deity. The Hoopoe acts as the guide and provides answers to the bird's questions and doubts about the journey - usually with short illustrative tales. These tales are each tiny drops of gold, the longest being only a few hundred lines. The overarching theme is the denial of the self to gain ultimate bliss. This is no intellectual exercise and much of the advice given is shocking and revolutionary. In the extended tale of Sheik Sam'an, the Sheik leaves his faith and becomes a Christian for the love of a woman who ultimately spurns him. His apostasy and depravity astound his followers who swiftly abandon him. A Sufi teacher chastises them for their lack of faith and eventually they return to his side. Sam'an then reconverts and his love is converted too. The message would seem to be that to find God it may be necessary to abandon conventional notions of behaviour and faith and plunge forward with wild abandon, losing the self. Some of the stories may shock our sensibilities, and no doubt had the same effect on Attar's medieval audiences. A kind of counter-culture attitude is displayed in the book, with tales of romantic love between men and other "un-Islamic" behaviours challenging accepted norms.

As to the book itself, the translation is done in "heroic couplets" which according to the introduction, best suits the style of the arabic original. It at first seems a little stilted but soon lends a beauty of its own to the work. A fairly substantial introduction helps put the book in context and describes what is known of Attar's life and times. A biographical index is included which provides details on the many characters - often historical - who people the pages of the poem. This book is a beautiful little gem, filled with a lot of wisdom. It is definitely worth the read for members of any faith, even those who aren't practicing Sufis. ( )
4 vote Neutiquam_Erro | Mar 18, 2008 |
This remarkedly long poem was composed in Iran around 1150 AD. It is a metaphor for the challenges the soul faces into seeking unity with God. The birds set out on a quest to meet their king, the Simorgh bird. I found the poem rambling with too many parables from history and culture of the day. It certainly didn't have the dramatic focus of Homer. ( )
  theageofsilt | Feb 1, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Farid al-Din Attarprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adamson, KateIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nott, C.S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140444343, Paperback)

Like Rumi and Hafiz, the name Attar conjures up images of passionate attraction to the divine. Attar was a Persian Sufi of the 12th century and his masterpiece is The Conference of the Birds, an epic allegory of the seeker's journey to God. When all the birds of the world convene and determine that they lack a king, one bird steps forward and offers to lead them to a great and mighty monarch. Initially excited, each bird falters in turn, whereupon the leader admonishes them with well-targeted parables. These pithy tales are the delight of this 4,500-line poem, translated deftly into rhymed couplets. What is your excuse for not seeking God? Your life is fine already? You prefer material pleasure? You are holy enough? You have pride, lack courage, or are burdened with responsibility? Attar has an answer to encourage you on the path to the promised land. And when you get there, the king may not be what you'd expect, but you must make the journey to see. --Brian Bruya

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Overview: The acclaimed translation of a magnificent work of Persian poetry-now updated with new material. Composed in the twelfth century in northeastern Iran, Farid Attar's great mystical poem is among the most significant of all works of Persian literature. A marvelous, allegorical rendering of the Islamic doctrine of Sufism, it describes the pilgrimage of the world's birds in search of their ideal king, the Simorgh bird, and the arduous journey they take to reach him. This masterly translation preserves the poem's rhymed couplet form and nuances of language. Here is the great 12th-century mystical poem in an inexpensive unabridged translation.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

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