The Song of Birds was written around 1177 by Attar, the apothecary poet of Nichapur (a town in northeastern Iran, in Khorassan).
It is a prose poem of 9,448 verses constituting a sacred song par excellence. It traces the story of the quest for Truth (the search for the Supreme Being) by the birds of the world.
Guided by the hoopoe, symbolizing the spiritual guide poet and messenger elected King Solomon, birds will live a spiritual adventure of doubts and discoveries that is reminiscent of the journey of those who engage in their spiritual perfection. The goal is to reach the Simorgh, and only the hoopoe knows where she lives and how to get there.
The Simorgh is the bird symbol of the thought of God:
Yes, the Sovereign Being exists, To be sublime
His home is beyond Mount Qaf
His name is Sîmorgh, the Supreme Majesty
She is close to us and we are so far
She rests at the Sanctuary of Glory
His name is beyond what language can
Distes 691 to 694
"Dear birds," she said to them, "I am the messenger of our majesty and voice of the invisible.
I know her, for sure, in the depths of my soul.
And in all finesse, I know all these secrets.
The one with his beak bears the name of God (ref) It is not surprising that he knows secrets
"Distics 708 to 714
So I know who is my Sovereign I can not go alone to him But if you become my fellow travelers You will find access to its intimacy You must free yourself from your egocentrism!
Will you long live your lack of faith?
Who renounces his life will win over himself
In the Way of the beloved who is the source of life
He will be beyond and good and evil
Give your life and enter the dance
Who at this royal threshold ends in reverence
Yes, the sovereign Being exists, To be sublime His dwelling is beyond Mount Qaf
His name is the Sîmorgh, the Supreme Majesty
She is close to us and we are so far away
Among the birds gathered around Solomon, it is the hoopoe (hudhud), which carries the letter of the king prophet to the pagan queen and her people, to bring them out of the spiritual darkness.
Messenger and guide - word games both sonorous and graphic between hodhod (the hoopoe) and hadi (the guide) -, the hoopoe was also, according to legend, the ability to detect the water points under the ground. Indeed, it has the gift of vision beyond the dense matter of the soil, a metaphor of the body made of earth and in the darkness of which flows the water of eternal life.
The spiritual guide is precisely here who has access to the soul hidden under the veil of the body.
In Persian mysticism (the poem of 'Attâr), the Song of Birds, the hoopoe invites the bird souls to flight. Its golden crest recalls both the halo of holiness and the crown of kings. The sonorous proximity between hodhod (hoopoe) and hadî (guide) makes it the ideal metaphor for the soul scout.
Above, the Islamic tradition transcribes the winged figure of the messenger of the Divine through an intertwining of figurative calligrams, the art of writing whose ingenuity reached its zenith in Iran and Turkey around the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.