Farid ud-Din ‘Attar

The sun of my Perfection is a Glass

Wherein from Seeing into Being pass

All who, reflecting as reflected see

Themselves in Me, and Me in them, not Me,

But all of Me that a contracted Eye

Is comprehensive of Infinity.

Not yet Themselves; no Selves, but of All

Fractions, from which they split and whither fall.

As Water lifted from the Deep, again

Falls back in individual Drops of Rain —

Then melts into the Universal Main.

All you have been, and seen, and done, and thought,

Not You but I, have seen and been and wrought;

I was the Sin that from Myself rebell’d,

I the Remorse that tow’rd Myself compelled:

…Sin and Contrition — Retribution owed

And cancelled — Pilgrim, Pilgrimage, and Road,

Was but Myself toward Myself: and your

Arrival but Myself at my own Door:

…Rays that have wander’d into Darkness wide

Return, and back into your Sun abide. — from Mantiq al-Tayr (trans. Edward FitzGerald)

Farīd ud-Dīn ‘Attar (ca. 1145–1221) was a Persian Muslim poet, Sufi theologian, and historian who believed that the soul’s return to its divine source could be experienced in this world through ascetic purification and personal sanctity. Anticipating the “Parliament of Fowls” of Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) by about 150 years, the
Mantiq al-Tayr (“conference of the birds”) is a 4500-line poem that uses allegory to explain the Sufi way of life.

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