“The Valley” by Kerry Hardie.

The Valley

by Kerry Hardie.

‘The first valley is the Valley of the Quest,
the second the Valley of Love
the third is the Valley of Understanding
the fourth is the Valley of Independence and Detachment
the fifth of Pure Unity
the sixth is the Valley of Astonishment
and the seventh is the Valley of Poverty and Nothingness
beyond which one can go no further.’

That is a Sufi story
about a whole crowd of birds getting ready
to go on an Awful Journey.
They elect the Hoopoe as leader
because he knows a thing or two,
for instance the lie of the various valleys,
and which one comes after which.
What I like is the way it’s all more or less as expected
until you hit the sixth.

I should like to go
to the Valley of Astonishment.
I wonder where it lies
this astonishing Valley of Astonishment ?
In China perhaps?
Or Peru?
I wonder if you could stay there
Out of your wits with astonishment,
or if , in this witlessness, you might find yourself
stumbling on , over the mountain –

Note : the first stanza is quoted from The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar, written in the second half of the twelfth century AD. This rendering in english is by C.S Nott.

Taken from The Stinging Fly , 25th Issue. Ed Declan Meade.

Kerry Hardie bio page from Poetry International Web
 Women writers on Poethead 2010

Tapestry Bird from Fine Art, America.

“Why Not?” by Farideh Hassanzadeh (Mostafavi)

Some day
I will find someone
and will tell him in silence
all the words I told others in my poems
and nobody got them.

Then I will let him
hold my head in his hands
and kiss my eyes
full of tears.
Full of the waters of dream
we will go to open the suitcase
-which we had never closed-
and will take all we need to despair
like a painkiller, a watch or a book of poems.

Then
We, he and me, will leave everything
everything except tomorrow
and each other.

 Farideh is an Iranian poet and translator.


There are many books on women writers from the sufi and Islamic traditions, mostly they are university  and world religion type presses.

Sufism has touched contemporary western authors and philosophers. There are many access nodes on the internet to both ancient and modern Sufism, but best to enter ‘women’ poets into the search engine when looking for specific styles  writing. There are literally thousands of sites on Sufism and Islam,  so refine the search for poet(esses) (both ancient and modern)