Ilāhī-Nāmah. A frame tale poem of a caliph with six sons, all of whose desires (the daughters of the king of the fairies, the water of life, etc.) are eventually realized only metaphorically in the ethical and mystical realm. Text: F. Rawḥānī (Tehran: 1960) is useful but not totally scholarly edition. Translation: J. A. Boyle, The Ilāhī-nāma or Book of God (Manchester: 1976), considered a good translation.
Manṭiq al-ṭayr. “The Conference of the Birds” or the “The Parliament of the Fowls,” as Edward Fitzgerald rendered the title. (Fitzgerald’s translation, by the way, nowhere rises to the level of his Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam.) The birds, led by the hoopoe, elect as their king the sīmurgh, a bird of great size and beauty, akin in some ways to the phoenix in the Western tradition. First, however, they must seek out this exotic creature and, crossing seven perilous valleys, all but thirty of the birds perish. The thirty that survive recognize at last that the sīmurgh is themselves, for the traditional word can be etymologized as “thirty birds.” They merge with the sīmurgh as the truth of this mystical unity is understood. An example of a story within a story in this narrative is a tale about Socrates, appropriately adduced as an example of who knows the difficulty of knowing oneself. When asked by his pupils where he should be buried, Socrates replies: “If you can find me when I’m dead