The Valley of the Quest

by Farid ud-Din Attar

English version by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis
Original Language Persian/Farsi

When you begin the Valley of the Quest
Misfortunes will deprive you of all rest,
Each moment some new trouble terrifies,
And parrots there are panic-stricken flies.
There years must vanish while you strive and grieve;
There is the heart of all you will achieve --
Renounce the world, your power and all you own,
And in your heart's blood journey on alone.
When once your hands are empty, then your heart
Must purify itself and move apart
From everything that is -- when this is done,
The Lord's light blazes brighter than the sun,
Your heart is bathed in splendour and the quest
Expands a thousandfold within your breast.
Though fire flares up across the path, and though
A hundred monsters peer out from its glow,
The pilgrim driven on by his desire
Will like a moth rush gladly on the fire.
When love inspires his heart he begs for win,
One drop to be vouchsafed him as a sign --
And when he drinks this drop both worlds are gone;
Dry-lipped he founders in oblivion.
His zeal to know faith's mysteries will make
Him fight with dragons for salvation's sake --
Though blasphemy and curses crowd the gate,
Until it opens he will calmly wait,
And then where is this faith? this blasphemy?
Both vanish into strenghless vacancy.

-- from The Conference of the Birds, Translated by Afkham Darbandi / Translated by Dick Davis

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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 Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems The Conference of the Birds
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The Valley of the