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    The Phoenix and the Turtle

    by William Shakespeare
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    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,
    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,
    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,
    Lest the requiem lack his right.

    And thou treble-dated crow,
    That thy sable gender makest
    With the breath thou givest and takest,
    'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.

    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
    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
    '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;
    Either was the other's mine.

    Property was thus appalled,
    That the self was not the same;
    Single nature's double name
    Neither two nor one was called.

    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
    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,
    Co-supremes and stars of love,
    As chorus to their tragic scene.


    Beauty, truth, and rarity,
    Grace in all simplicity,
    Here enclosed in cinders lie.

    Death is now the phoenix' nest
    And the turtle's loyal breast
    To eternity doth rest,

    Leaving no posterity:
    'Twas not their infirmity,
    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
    That are either true or fair
    For these dead birds sigh a prayer.
    If you're writing a The Phoenix and the Turtle essay and need some advice, post your William Shakespeare essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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