His castle lies in the Qaf


This takes place in the Mantiq- al-Tayr (Parliament of Birds) byFarid al-Din Attar.  The plot of this allegory, made up of some 4,500 couplets, is striking.  The distant king of birds, the Simurgh, drops one of his splendid feathers somewhere in the middle of China; on learning of this, the other birds, tired of their present anarchy, decide to seek him.  They know that the king’s name means ‘thirty birds’; they know that his castle lies in the Qaf, the mountain, or ring of mountains that ring the earth.  At the outset some of the birds lose heart:  the nightingale pleads his love of the rose; the parrot pleads his beauty, for which he lives caged; the partridge cannot do without his home in the hills, nor the heron without his marsh, nor the owl without his ruins.  But finally, certain of them set out on the perilous venture; they cross seven valleys, or seas, the next to last bearing the name Bewilderment, the last the name Annihilation.  Many of the pilgrims desert; the journey takes its toll among the rest.  Thirty, made pure by their suffering, reach the great peak of the Simurgh.  At last they behold him; they realize that they are the Simurgh, and the Simurgh is each of them and all of them.

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