The Vain Bird

by Farid ud-Din Attar

English version by Raficq Abdulla
Original Language Persian/Farsi

'You see I am vanity personified,
Iblis watches over me night and day
Thus I'm prescribed by him without a guide.
I am torn self from self, I can't find the Way.
I'm a finger of the Devil's pride.
I cannot resist, I am the Devil tried.'
The hoopoe hears the sixth bird out
and says: 'You're meat for the dog of desire.
The Devil's fool you are, no matter how you shout
Your avowals to start again. The devil you acquires
With vain conceits that steadily eat your soul
As worms quilt the body's fodder which is your end.
Unless you realize in heart and mind that as you are
You're the Devil's coal ready to burn to ash. No friend
Is he who seems to satisfy your whims, you're far
From the Way you wish to travel or so you say;
Reject the world's blandishments that spin you astray.'

-- from The Conference of the Birds: The Selected Sufi Poetry of Farid ud-Din Attar, Translated by Raficq Abdulla

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Recommended Books: Farid ud-Din Attar

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom The Conference of the Birds
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The Vain Bird