by Jonathan Vold

Saturday, December 3

Tales of Simorgh, Revisited

O swallows, swallows, poems are not
The point. Finding again the world,
That is the point...
— Howard Nemerov

This is the culmination of my Thirty Birds collection, a poem presented in modified ghazal style reflecting the 12th century Persian legend of Simorgh, king of the birds.  The various species of birds in the world agreed that they needed to find their king, but most species, being bound to their various natures, are unable to commit to the harrowing journey.  Only thirty birds remain to climb the final mountain, where each bird sees the king, Simorgh, in a different light, yet Simorgh is king of all of them.

The original story, by Farid ud-Din Attar, is an epic poem that runs for 4,500 lines.  My poem is barely one percent of this, but I hope I have captured that which has intrigued me the most about this tale.  We birds are flawed as we make our way to God, and many of us will not make it to the end.  We are also biased in our perceptions, and even as we approach the palace, we only see what we are able to see.  And who, ultimately, is right?  All of us, and none of us, too.  We see only a dark reflection for now, but one day we will see face to face.

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