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The Great ConversationNature and the Care of the Soul$
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Belden C. Lane

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190842673

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190842673.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 April 2020

Birds

Birds

Sandhill Cranes, the Platte River, and Farid Ud-Din Attar

Chapter:
(p.53) Chapter Three Birds
Source:
The Great Conversation
Author(s):

Belden C. Lane

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190842673.003.0004

In myth and folklore, birds (and cranes in particular) have traditionally been symbols of transcendence and rebirth. The Sufi mystic Farid ud-Din Attar, in his The Conference of the Birds, offered a parable of birds going on pilgrimage to find the divine king of their dreams, openly to discover in the end that they were the mystery they had sought all along. The author reads this text on a trip to see sandhill cranes along the Platte River in Nebraska. These cranes fly 10,000 miles between Mexico and northern Alaska (and back) each year, stopping in March to feed for a few weeks. In the history of symbols, birds are routinely portrayed as omens of death, embodiments of departed spirits, or symbols of transcendent mystery. But of all birds, the crane—by the majesty of its size alone—inspires admiration. The huge white bird with a bright red crown is a symbol of longevity and good luck. It was believed to have a life span of a thousand years or more.

Keywords:   Attar, sandhill cranes, Sufi, pilgrimage, mystic

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