Ah, the Simurgh, who is this wondrous being

Who, one fated night, when time stood still,

Flew over China, not a single soul seeing?

A feather fell from this King, his beauty and his will,

And all hearts touched by it were in tumult thrown.

Everyone who could, traced from it a liminal form;

All who saw the still glowing lines were blown

By longing like trees on a shore bent by storm.

The feather is lodged in China’s sacred places,

Hence the Prophet’s exhortation for knowledge to seek

Even unto China where the feather’s shadow graces

All who shelter under it — to know of this is not to speak.

But unless the feather’s image is felt and seen

None knows the heart’s obscure, shifting states

That replace the fat of inaction with decision’s lean.

His grace enters the world and molds our fates

Though without the limit of form or definite shape,

For all definitions are frozen contradictions not fit

For knowing; therefore, if you wish to travel on the Way,

Set out on it now to find the Simurgh, don’t prattle and sit

On your haunches till into stiffening death you stray.

All the birds who were by this agitation shook,

Aspired to a meeting place to prepare for the Shah,

To release in themselves the revelations of the Book;

They yearned so deeply for Him who is both near and far,

They were drawn to this sun and burned to an ember;

But the road was long and perilous that was open to offer.

Hooked by terror, though each was asked to remember

The truth, each an excuse to stay behind was keen to proffer.

Farid Ud-Din Attar


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