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I'll fetch sweet myrrh to burn, and licorice,
See, beauteous Phoenix, it begins to burn :
And thou shalt see with what a quick desire
PHOENIX: Stay, Turtle, stay, for I will first prepare;
This frailty of thy life. O live thou still,
And teach the base deceitful world love's will.
TURTLE: Have I come hither drooping through the woods,
And left the springing groves to seek for thee?
Do not deny me, Phoenix; I must be
PHOENIX: O holy, sacred, and pure perfect fire,
More pure than that ore which fair Dido moans,
Than that which burnt old Eson's agéd bones,
Two bodies, from the which may spring one name.
TURTLE: O sweet perfuméd flame, made of those trees
To whom the fair-faced nymphs did often throng,
Into your flame, of whom one name may rise.
PHOENIX: 0 wilfulness! see how, with smiling cheer,
Learn, thou corrupted world, learn, hear, and see,
I come, sweet Turtle, and with my bright wings
I stay too long, O take me to your glory.
In a short additional piece the resultant Phoenix is noticed:
From the sweet fire of perfumed wood
And in her heart rests a perpetual love,
We now give an account of the other compositions, except Shakespeare's; and it will be seen that their writers' attitude to Chester's poem is simply that of interpreters of the allegory.
These other compositions are preceded by a special title page:
'Hereafter follow diverse Poeticall Essaies on the
former Subject; viz., the Turtle and Phoenix. Done by the best and chiefest of our moderne writers, with their names subscribed to their particular workes: never before extant. And (now first) consecrated by them all generally to the love and merite of the true-noble Knight Sir John Salisburie.'
Next after the title page come two pieces by 'Vatum Chorus: the first an invocation of Apollo and the Pierian influences; the second an address to Sir John Salisbury. Then come the essays by the other writers, in the order, 'Ignoto,' William Shakespeare, John Marston, George Chapman, Ben Jonson.
'Ignoto's' contribution is:
The silver vault of heaven hath but one eye,
The heart one string so, thus in single turns,
Suppose here burns this wonder of a breath
Her rare dead ashes fill a rare live urne :
He concerns himself only with the Phoenix, and takes the flames that burn her to be allegorical of the 'righteous
flames and holy-heated fires' that burn in a good man, and perhaps especially in a poet, and burn him up as he tries to embody them in poem or conduct: such poem or beneficent conduct being the Phoenix that springs from his ashes.
Marston's contribution is in four parts, and his interpretation of the allegory is contained in the last two lines of the fourth part, which is addressed to the creature that arises from the Phoenix' and the Turtle Dove's ashes:—
What should I call this creature,
Which now is grown unto maturity?
How should I blaze this feature
As firm and constant as eternity?
Call it perfection? Fie!
'Tis perfecter than brightest names can light it.
Call it heaven's mirror? Ay,
Alas! best attributes can never right it.
Beauty's resistless thunder?
All nomination is too straight of sense.
That appellation gives this excellence.
Within all best confined?
(Now, feebler Genius, end thy slighter rhyming),
No suburbs,-all is Mind,
As far from spot as possible defining.'
Since he takes the resultant Phoenix to be representative of a mind of perfect beauty, it is to mind that he refers the whole allegory.
George Chapman's complete, characteristic contribution
'PERISTEROS OR THE MALE TURTLE.
Not like that loose and parti-livered sect
And must be fed with fresh conceits and fashions;
(Love's fires staid judgments blow, not humourous passions.) Whose loves upon their lover's pomp depend,
And quench as fast as her eyes' sparkle twinkles, (Nought lasts that doth to outward worth contend;
All love in smooth brows born is tombed in wrinkles.) But like the consecrated Bird of Love,1
Whose whole life's hap to his sole-mate alluded, Whom no proud flocks of other fowls could move, But in herself all company concluded:
(She was to him th' analysed world of pleasure;
Mourned when she mourned, and dieth when she dies.)
And Time nor Change, that all things else devours
Can change me more from her, than her from merit;
Like 'Ignoto and Marston he refers the allegory to mind only:
'Nought lasts that doth to outward worth contend';
but while they concern themselves only with the Phoenix, Chapman embraces the whole allegory, and states that just as the Turtle Dove, the type of perfect love, gave