The Phoenix and the Turtle

A Poem written in 1601 by William Shakespeare

ORDERPARTVERSECHARACTERLINE
111POETLet the bird of loudest lay,
On the sole Arabian tree,
Herald sad and trumpet be,
To whose sound chaste wings obey.
212POETBut thou shrieking harbinger,
Foul precurrer of the fiend,
Augur of the fever's end,
To this troop come thou not near!
313POETFrom this session interdict
Every fowl of tyrant wing,
Save the eagle, feather'd king:
Keep the obsequy so strict.
414POETLet the priest in surplice white,
That defunctive music can,
Be the death-divining swan,
Lest the requiem lack his right.
515POETAnd thou treble-dated crow,
That thy sable gender makest
With the breath thou givest and takest,
'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.
616POETHere the anthem doth commence:
Love and constancy is dead;
Phoenix and the turtle fled
In a mutual flame from hence.
717POETSo they loved, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none:
Number there in love was slain.
818POETHearts remote, yet not asunder;
Distance, and no space was seen
'Twixt the turtle and his queen:
But in them it were a wonder.
919POETSo between them love did shine,
That the turtle saw his right
Flaming in the phoenix' sight;
Either was the other's mine.
10110POETProperty was thus appalled,
That the self was not the same;
Single nature's double name
Neither two nor one was called.
11111POETReason, in itself confounded,
Saw division grow together,
To themselves yet either neither,
Simple were so well compounded,
12112POETThat it cried, How true a twain
Seemeth this concordant one!
Love hath reason, reason none,
If what parts can so remain.
13113POETWhereupon it made this threne
To the phoenix and the dove,
Co-supremes and stars of love,
As chorus to their tragic scene.
14114POETTHRENOS.
15115POETBeauty, truth, and rarity,
Grace in all simplicity,
Here enclosed in cinders lie.
16116POETDeath is now the phoenix' nest
And the turtle's loyal breast
To eternity doth rest,
17117POETLeaving no posterity:
'Twas not their infirmity,
It was married chastity.
18118POETTruth may seem, but cannot be:
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.
19119POETTo this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.


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