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All his faults observed,
Set in a note-book, learn'd, and conn'd by rote.

      — Julius Caesar, Act IV Scene 3

The Phoenix and the Turtle

(complete text)

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Act I, Scene 1

The Phoenix and the Turtle

       
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  • Shakespeare. Let the bird of loudest lay,
    On the sole Arabian tree,
    Herald sad and trumpet be,
    To whose sound chaste wings obey.
  • Shakespeare. But thou shrieking harbinger, 5
    Foul precurrer of the fiend,
    Augur of the fever's end,
    To this troop come thou not near!
  • Shakespeare. From this session interdict
    Every fowl of tyrant wing, 10
    Save the eagle, feather'd king:
    Keep the obsequy so strict.
  • Shakespeare. Let the priest in surplice white,
    That defunctive music can,
    Be the death-divining swan, 15
    Lest the requiem lack his right.
  • Shakespeare. And thou treble-dated crow,
    That thy sable gender makest
    With the breath thou givest and takest,
    'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go. 20
  • Shakespeare. Here the anthem doth commence:
    Love and constancy is dead;
    Phoenix and the turtle fled
    In a mutual flame from hence.
  • Shakespeare. So they loved, as love in twain 25
    Had the essence but in one;
    Two distincts, division none:
    Number there in love was slain.
  • Shakespeare. 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.
  • Shakespeare. So between them love did shine,
    That the turtle saw his right
    Flaming in the phoenix' sight; 35
    Either was the other's mine.
  • Shakespeare. Property was thus appalled,
    That the self was not the same;
    Single nature's double name
    Neither two nor one was called. 40
  • Shakespeare. Reason, in itself confounded,
    Saw division grow together,
    To themselves yet either neither,
    Simple were so well compounded,
  • Shakespeare. That it cried, How true a twain 45
    Seemeth this concordant one!
    Love hath reason, reason none,
    If what parts can so remain.
  • Shakespeare. Whereupon it made this threne
    To the phoenix and the dove, 50
    Co-supremes and stars of love,
    As chorus to their tragic scene.
  • Shakespeare. Beauty, truth, and rarity,
    Grace in all simplicity, 55
    Here enclosed in cinders lie.
  • Shakespeare. Death is now the phoenix' nest
    And the turtle's loyal breast
    To eternity doth rest,
  • Shakespeare. Leaving no posterity: 60
    'Twas not their infirmity,
    It was married chastity.
  • Shakespeare. Truth may seem, but cannot be:
    Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
    Truth and beauty buried be. 65
  • Shakespeare. To this urn let those repair
    That are either true or fair
    For these dead birds sigh a prayer.

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