The Lover, The Singing Birds of Baghdad and the Mythical Story of Inshaad – Novid Shaid

The Lover, the singing birds of Baghdad

and the mythical story of Inshaad

By Novid Shaid, 2011


Once there lived a lover from Baghdad

Who loved God so much it nearly turned him mad

If he did not settle his nerves quite soon

He would disintegrate into a fiery pool.


So he roamed the Baghdad streets until nightfall

The fire of love burning stronger than a fireball

He had to find some respite from his illuminations

A channel for relieving and expressing his elation.


It just so happened that this lover had a voice

So loud and free it made all around him rejoice

But he needed inspiration, not being a trained singer

He yearned to sing for God with beautiful style and vigour.


His search went on, the yearning intolerably bad

When one dawn he noticed the birdsong of Baghdad

And at this moment Love inspired him with love

It was the moment he’d been dreaming of.


While sitting by the banks of the flowing Tigris

He sat among some trees as the sun was rising

Suddenly this lover’s heart was tremendously lifted

Birdsong consumed the air, while along the Tigris drifted.


He saw a crested lark, migrating from Sheraz

Perched upon a branch singing with gravitas

The lover listened enrapt and spellbound

Imitating its melody he called it Nahawand.


Then singing for an absent friend or lover,

He heard a sighing Bul-Bul hailing from Basra

Its melancholic song echoed with the pain of separation

He called this one Saba and wept with trepidation.


A House Martin caught the lover’s gaze thereafter

Singing about the haunting mystery of the holy Kaaba

He felt the fear of God, prostrating as

he listened to the bird, its song he called Hijaz.


Some cheer descended which made the lover glad

Some chirping blackbirds from the forests of Jilan

Their rousing song put the lover’s heart at ease,

He called their song Bayat,  Rasd and Ajami.


Then just before the lover ventured off

He heard a bird exulting in the glory of God

This swift from Nishapur, was on a journey, a true seeker

Inspired by its exultation he called its song Seeka.


And now with birdsong swirling round his head

The lover arose and saluted the birds of Baghdad

He sang their modes through days and through nights

And the people listened, imitating, lost in delight.