First written in the 12th century, Conference of the Birds is an allegory of extreme measures for extreme times -- the story of birds seeking a king is the story of all of us seeking God. Like the birds, we may be excited for the journey, until we realize that we must give up our fears and hollow desires, that our journey will be long and hard. Like the duck, we may not wish to leave the water. Like the nightingale, we may want to stay close to our roses. Direct and to the point, Masani's translation, made in the early part of the 19th century, is particularly apropos for our early 21st century times -- both are periods of intense spiritual seeking.