Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: The Phoenix and Turtle (Quarto, 1601)
  • Editor: Hardy M. Cook
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-411-0

    Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Hardy M. Cook
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The Phoenix and Turtle (Quarto, 1601)

    Allegorically shadowing the truth of Loue,
    in the constant Fate of the Phe}}nix
    and Turtle.
    A Poeme enterlaced with much varietie and raritie;
    now first translated out of the venerable Italian Torquato
    Caeliano, by ROBERT CHESTER.
    With the true legend of famous King Arthur, the last of the nine
    Worthies, being the first Essay of the new Brytish Poet: collected
    out of diuerse Authenticall Records.
    To these are added some new comositions, of seuerall moderne Writers
    whose names are subscribed as their seuerall workes, upon the
    first Sujiect: viz. the Phe}}nix and
    Mar:---------- Mutare dominum non potest liber notus
    Imprinted for E. B.
    Poeticall Essaies on the former Sub-
    iect; viz: the Turtle and Phoenix.
    Done by the best and chiefest of our
    moderne writers, with their names sub-
    scribed to their particular workes:
    neuer before extant.
    And (now first) consecrated by them all generally,
    to the loue and merite of the true-noble Knight,
    Sir Iohn Salisburie.
    Dignum laude virum Musavetat mori.
    1LEt the bird of lowdest lay,
    On the sole Arabian tree,
    Herauld sad and trumpet be:
    To whose sound chaste wings obay.
    5But thou shriking harbinger,
    Foule precurrer of the fiend,
    Augour of the feuers end,
    To this troupe come thou not neere.
    From this Session interdict
    10Euery foule of tyrant wing,
    Saue the Eagle feath'red King,
    Keepe the obsequie so strict.
    Let the Priest in Surples white,
    That defunctiue Musicke can,
    15Be the death-deuining Swan,
    Lest the Requiem lacke his right.
    And thou treble dated Crow,
    That thy sable gender mak'st,
    With the breath thou giu'st and tak'st,
    20Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.
    Here the Antheme doth commence,
    Loue and Constancie is dead,
    Phoenix and the Turtle fled,
    In a mutuall flame from hence.
    25So they loued as loue in twaine,
    Had the essence but in one,
    Two distincts, Diuision none,
    Number there in loue was slaine.
    Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
    30Distance and no space was seene,
    Twixt this Turtle and his Queene;
    But in them it were a wonder.
    So betweene them Loue did shine,
    That the Turtle saw his right,
    35Flaming in the Phoenix sight;
    Either was the others mine.
    Propertie was thus appalled,
    That the selfe was not the same:
    Single Natures double name,
    40Neither two nor one was called.
    Reason in it selfe confounded,
    Saw Diuision grow together,
    To themselues yet either neither,
    Simple were so well compounded.
    45That it cried, how true a twaine,
    Seemeth this concordant one,
    Loue hath Reason, Reason none,
    If what parts, can so remaine.
    Whereupon it made this Threne,
    50To the Phoenix and the Doue,
    Co-supremes and starres of Loue,
    As Chorus to their Tragique Scene.
    BEautie, Truth, and Raritie,
    Grace in all simplicitie,
    55Here enclosde, in cinders lie.
    Death is now the Phoenix nest,
    And the Turtles loyall brest,
    To eternitie doth rest.
    Leauing no posteritie,
    60Twas not their infirmitie,
    It was married Chastitie.
    Truth may seeme, but cannot be,
    Beautie bragge, but tis not she,
    Truth and Beautie buried be.
    65To this vrne let those repaire,
    That are either true or faire,
    For these dead Birds, sigh a prayer.
    William Shake-speare.