He said, ‘They have related that a flock of birds assembled and came to an agreement, saying, ‘We must have a chief and leader, to whom we can have recourse in troublous affairs, that if an enemy come to make war upon us, we may exert ourselves to repulse and get rid of him with this chief’s assistance.’ Hereupon each of them designated one of the birds as chief, and another exerted himself to bring proofs and arguments to make the nomina­tion abortive, until the turn came to the owl. A party were unanimous to make him chief, and to give the reins of authority into the hand of his management. When they entered upon the consideration of this subject, and commenced arguing as to the acceptance or rejection of him, the fire of mischief blazed up between them, and the discussion passed from the limits of moderation to hostility and contention. Some, through partiality to the owl, set up the banner of prejudice, and others threw the stone of discord into the field of agreement. In brief, it was resolved that they should make another arbiter, who was not a member of that assembly, and that both parties should consent to whatever he directed, and that they should thus terminate their dispute. It befell that they saw at a distance a crow, and they said, ‘Lo! there is one who does not belong to this assembly, we will ask counsel of him; and another thing is, he is of our race; and until the nobles and grandees of every particular kind of birds are not agreed, unanimity is unattainable, and without unanimity, this plan that we propose is impracticable.’ Wherefore, when the crow had joined them, they told him the state of the case, and asked him for direction in the matter. The crow replied, ‘What vain thought and impossible longing is this? What has the ill-omened owl to do with the office of ruler and governor? and what business has that ill-favoured creature with the dignity of absolute power and authority?

O Fly! the Símurgh’s movement-ground is not for thy manœuvres made,
Much thou troublest us while boastful thy puny force thou dost parade.

What has happened to the high-soaring falcon, which boasts equality of place with the eagle of the sky? and what has befallen the beautiful peacock of graceful form, by the ornament of whose feathers and wings the garden of beauty and elegance is adorned? Where is the Humá of fortunate omen, the shadow of whose auspiciousness sets the crown of exaltation on the head of renowned kings? And the glorious eagle,* at the clang of whose victorious pinions and triumphant wings the summits of the mountains quake, why is he absent? If all the birds of noble race were to perish, and the weak and feeble too were lost without a trace, it would be better that the birds should exist without a king, and not consent to the dishonor of being subjects to the owl, and the disgrace of being ruled by him. For he, together with* his foul aspect, has a base intellect; and, at the same time that he is a slave to his angry passions, does not refrain from feelings of arrogance; and, besides all this, he is shut out from the beauty of the world-illuminating day, which, according to the sacred verse, ‘And destined the day to the gaining your livelihood,’* is the stock of the market of subsistence; and he is excluded from the light of the creation-adorning sun, which, as declared* by the text, ‘And placed therein a burning lamp,’* is the universe-irradiating lamp and taper that gilds the earth. And what is still worse, passion and levity have got the better of him, and vehemence and absurdity are manifest in all his actions. Abandon this unwholesome project, and base your affairs on wisdom and ability, and control your transactions by the rules of wisdom, and consider it incumbent on you to manage every matter in accordance with sound views, so that ye may always live tranquil and free from anxiety. And your first care must be to appoint among yourselves a president, in whose intelligence and sagacity and good sense and ability you may have perfect confidence and complete reliance. So that whatever circumstances may arise, and whatever momentous affair or accident may take place, he may be equal to the management of it with his judicious mind, like that Hare which pretended to be an ambassador from the moon, and, by skilful management, averted a terrible calamity from his race.’ The birds inquired, ‘How was that?’