Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Conference of the Birds - The Theme for Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2014

The Conference of the Birds, is an epic of approximately 4500 lines written in Persian by the poet Farid ud-Din Attar. It is also now - officially - the theme of the 2014 Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

The ocean can be yours; why should you stop
Beguiled by dreams of evanescent dew?
The secrets of the sun are yours, but you
Content yourself with motes trapped in beams.
― فرید الدین عطار, The Conference of the Birds

It is a great theme from the Sufi tradition and should serve the festival well with its imagery and content.

La Conférence des oiseaux - The Conference of the Birds

In the poem, 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. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent 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.

Besides being one of the most celebrated examples of Persian poetry, this book relies on a clever word play between the words Simorgh – a mysterious bird in Iranian mythology which is a symbol often found in sufi literature, and similar to the phoenix bird – and "si morgh" – meaning "thirty birds" in Persian.

It was in China, late one moonless night,
The Simorgh first appeared to mortal sight –
He let a feather float down through the air,
And rumours of its fame spread everywhere;

Its most famous section is:

Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw:
Rays that have wander'd into Darkness wide
Return and back into your Sun subside.

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1 comment:

Gabriel Monson said...

Really looking forward to this!