Mr. Davis' translation of Attar's masterpiece is indeed very good and as it has the cachet of appearing in the Penguin series I hope that it will lead more Westerners to take Middle Eastern, particularly Persian, language and culture more seriously. While Islamic spirituality has been in vogue in some circles over the last couple of decades (witness the popularity of Rumi), its audience unfortunately tends to consist of seekers of exotic spirituality rather than people who are willing to put in the spade work to understand the cultural context in which this spirituality came into existence.
No doubt there was a time when I would have been in spiritual raptures over this book. At my age, however (I'll be 51 next month) I am less inclined to expect much direct spiritual benefit from a book, but I like to think that I can appreciate a good piece of literature when I read it. Attar is indeed good literature, and Mr. Davis' translation is simple and balanced, with a feeling of intimacy that mirrors Attar's style. It is never overworked or sentimental - if you're expecting Fitzgerald's Khayyam you'll be disappointed.
As for the Sufic interpretations of the content (how profound! how obscure!) I must admit that the more I read of such things the less I understand them. On first reading at least, I suggest to the reader to let the book stand on its own merits as literature, and only afterwards seek any hidden meaning.
Fariduddin Attat is a wonderful commentator of sufi thought. In this epic poem of self actualization and self realization he reachs and touches the essence of sufic thought. The beautiful thought classically woven in the form of poetry by Attar in such a manner that one enjoys the form and contents equally.
In a very subtle way another book"Journey to the East" by great German novelist Hermann Hesse is a reflection on this poem, specially when thirty birds reaching destination find that Simrogh was nobody but themselves.
This is what its all about reaching to onself but not just like that, but through quest. This is a book very highly recomended for reading.