“The Conference of the Birds” at Mt. Chocorua

“The Conference of the Birds” at Mt. Chocorua

“The Conference of the Birds” at Mt. Chocorua


Note: “The Conference of the Birds” is the masterpiece of Persian literature about the soul’s search for meaning by poet Farid ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur. Italicized lines describe one of the seven valleys the birds cross.


By Marjorie Thomsen

The birds are passing over—
perhaps I’m in the Valley of Wonderment

where the Wayfarer becomes perplexed,
steeped in awe, finds she has never known

or understood anything. It’s true, this bald,
hot rockface with bright baby pines

springing up through cracks, pointy
miracles, confound my gusto for climbing

higher. Infinity of green and I don’t
really understand my walled heart: its need

for precision and joy but once
in a while it halts and tinkers with sorrow.

My eye and this light are where I’ll begin
again—the valley’s cloud shadows, shape

of lakes rocking with the wind, more
awe: my son putting his cap atop mine.

Marjorie Thomsen

Marjorie Thomsen is the author of “Pretty Things Please” (Turning Point, 2016). She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poems have been published widely and read on The Writer’s Almanac. She recently earned certification to become a Poet-in-Residence in the Massachusetts Public Schools. Marjorie serves on the board of the New England Poetry Club and lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Featured imaged courtesy, Marjorie Thomsen.