rushthatspeaks: (Default)
As I mentioned earlier, I've decided to spend the next year reading a new-to-me book every day and then writing about it. This is the first one. As I expected, it was not at all difficult on this first day to sit down and read a book first thing: ask me again in a week.

The Conference of the Birds is a Persian narrative poem, written probably around 1177. Its principal conceit is so compelling that I originally heard of it as a folktale or legend, when in fact it is a literary invention. A group of birds gather to determine who should be their king, and hear of the existence of the Simurgh, who is the omnibenevolent King of All Birds and lives on a mountain far away. They go in search of the Simurgh, and after a long and dangerous quest only thirty of them reach the summit of the mountain. There they discover that, having been purified and made wise by their journey, they are, in fact, the Simurgh (the word Simurgh means 'thirty birds' in Persian). It's not surprising that this plot has been referenced repeatedly ever since and reached the vernacular level-- I was first told the story orally, as a child.

In fact, of course, the whole thing is an obscure Sufi allegory and ninety percent of the poem is not actually about the birds. )
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
As I mentioned earlier, I've decided to spend the next year reading a new-to-me book every day and then writing about it. This is the first one. As I expected, it was not at all difficult on this first day to sit down and read a book first thing: ask me again in a week.

The Conference of the Birds is a Persian narrative poem, written probably around 1177. Its principal conceit is so compelling that I originally heard of it as a folktale or legend, when in fact it is a literary invention. A group of birds gather to determine who should be their king, and hear of the existence of the Simurgh, who is the omnibenevolent King of All Birds and lives on a mountain far away. They go in search of the Simurgh, and after a long and dangerous quest only thirty of them reach the summit of the mountain. There they discover that, having been purified and made wise by their journey, they are, in fact, the Simurgh (the word Simurgh means 'thirty birds' in Persian). It's not surprising that this plot has been referenced repeatedly ever since and reached the vernacular level-- I was first told the story orally, as a child.

In fact, of course, the whole thing is an obscure Sufi allegory and ninety percent of the poem is not actually about the birds. )

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