When, at a propitious moment, the door suddenly opened, there stepped out a noble Chamberlain, one of the courtiers of the Supreme Majesty. He looked them over and saw that out of thousands, only these thirty birds were left…. “We have come,” they said, “to acknowledge the Simurgh as our King. Through love and desire for him we have lost our reason and our peace of mind. Very long ago, when we started on this journey, we were thousands, and now only thirty of us have arrived at this sublime court. We cannot believe that the King will scorn us after all the suffering we have gone through. Ah, no! He cannot but look on us with the eye of benevolence!” The Chamberlain replied, “O you whose minds and hearts are troubled, whether you exist or do not exist in the universe, the King has his being always and eternally. Thousands of worlds of creatures are no more than an ant at his gate. You bring nothing but moans and lamentations. Return then to whence you came, O vile handful of earth!”
-from “The Conference of the Birds” by Farid Attar.
Farīd ud-Dīn ‘Attar (circa. 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 poem of 4,500 line poem which uses allegory to explain the Sufi way of life.