Conference of the Birds

Allegory for Humanity

By Farid Ud-Din Attar
Translated By Dick Davis
Persia/Iran, c. 1146 or c. 1187
Sufi Poetry, Persian Poetry 

Main Attractions

Penguin Classics Edition, Farid Attar, Dick Davis

1. Parables of wisdom  
2. Relatable decisions
3. Incredibly poetic imagery
4. Crossroads of understandings
5. Sands, Seas & Love in unity
6. If society was run by birds …
7. Fuels poetic understanding
8. A joy to read on a summer day
9. Flecks of relatable, birdlike humour 
10. Philosophical musings long afterwards 


Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Dessert Bar
Seeing these birds gather together with all their different personalities makes this universally relatable to many readers.  We can all see ourselves in these conversations.  Very often, the story breaks into parables to make this a light read that’s casual enough for small bursts of desired inspiration.  The highly poetic lines  are a delicious sweet topping to keep you reading.

Why Visit Here

This epic poem is from Iran and is highly regarded as a beloved story with universal, human wisdom.  For the casual reader, it’s lighthearted enough to be a great introduction to poetry and Persian literature.  For writers, it’s a great book to turn to for writing prompts because the lines of wisdom can inspire more inquiry.  For young readers, seeing different aspects of humanity represented as birds is something they could understand and develop some of their worldview on for how society functions. 

Destination Summary

The birds are gathering together to decide if they should go on a quest or not.  Similar to when many of us are deciding something as a group, they take quite a bit of time to deliberate.  The patient Hoopoe goes through all of their excuses, offering wisdom and parables in reply to their fears.  

Off the Beaten Path

The Simorgh is a mythological creature from Persia that’s rich in meaning.  It can be viewed as a Phoenix or even the collective unconscious. Here’s an artistic representation of the Simorgh told through music, writing and animation.

Packing List
✓ A sense of wonder
✓ Your childlike curiosity
✓ Google for looking up beautiful, surreal images.
✓ A journal for discovered sources of inspiration.

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
✓ The Shahnameh By Ferdowsi (c. 977-1010 CE) - This much longer epic poem shares the history of the Persian people through their line of kings.  It contains a vast, sweeping history with battles and women who give good advice.
✓ The Metamorphosis By Ovid (8 CE) - This ancient Roman epic poem was Ovid’s attempt to include every mythological god into a single poem that he could.  He also weaves in the element of change at every opportunity as well.  This makes the poem an ever flowing, changing experience that’s filled with mini stories like the Conference of the Birds
✓ Faces of Love By Hafiz (1300's) - Hafiz is another widely celebrated Persian poet, in his culture he’s more famous than Rumi, a well known poet among English speakers.  The Penguin Edition contains a variety of well known poems in translation. 


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