Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
William Shakespeare. 1564–1616
  
144. The Phoenix and the Turtle
  
LET the bird of loudest lay 
  On the sole Arabian tree, 
  Herald sad and trumpet be, 
To whose sound chaste wings obey. 
 
But thou shrieking harbinger,         5
  Foul precurrer of the fiend, 
  Augur of the fever's end, 
To this troop come thou not near. 
 
From this session interdict 
  Every fowl of tyrant wing  10
  Save the eagle, feather'd king: 
Keep the obsequy so strict. 
 
Let the priest in surplice white 
  That defunctive music can, 
  Be the death-divining swan,  15
Lest the requiem lack his right. 
 
And thou, treble-dated crow, 
  That thy sable gender mak'st 
  With the breath thou giv'st and tak'st, 
'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.  20
 
Here the anthem doth commence:— 
  Love and constancy is dead; 
  Phoenix and the turtle fled 
In a mutual flame from hence. 
 
So they loved, as love in twain  25
  Had the essence but in one; 
  Two distincts, division none; 
Number there in love was slain. 
 
Hearts remote, yet not asunder; 
  Distance, and no space was seen  30
  'Twixt the turtle and his queen: 
But in them it were a wonder. 
 
So between them love did shine, 
  That the turtle saw his right 
  Flaming in the phoenix' sight;  35
Either was the other's mine. 
 
Property was thus appall'd, 
  That the self was not the same; 
  Single nature's double name 
Neither two nor one was call'd.  40
 
Reason, in itself confounded, 
  Saw division grow together; 
  To themselves yet either neither; 
Simple were so well compounded, 
 
That it cried, 'How true a twain  45
  Seemeth this concordant one! 
  Love hath reason, reason none 
If what parts can so remain.' 
 
Whereupon it made this threne 
  To the phoenix and the dove,  50
  Co-supremes and stars of love, 
As chorus to their tragic scene. 
 
THRENOS


BEAUTY, truth, and rarity,
 
Grace in all simplicity, 
Here enclosed in cinders lie.  55
 
Death is now the phoenix' nest; 
And the turtle's loyal breast 
To eternity doth rest, 
 
Leaving no posterity: 
'Twas not their infirmity,  60
It was married chastity. 
 
Truth may seem, but cannot be; 
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she; 
Truth and beauty buried be. 
 
To this urn let those repair  65
That are either true or fair; 
For these dead birds sigh a prayer. 
 
GLOSS:  can] knows.
 
 
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