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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Phœnix
Bestiaries and Lapidaries
Guillaume le Clerc de Normandie (Thirteenth Century)
 
THERE is a bird named the phœnix, which dwells in India and is never found elsewhere. This bird is always alone and without companion, for its like cannot be found, and there is no other bird which resembles it in habits or appearance. 1 At the end of five hundred years it feels that it has grown old, and loads itself with many rare and precious spices, and flies from the desert away to the city of Leopolis. There, by some sign or other, the coming of the bird is announced to a priest of that city, who causes fagots to be gathered and placed upon a beautiful altar, erected for the bird. And so, as I have said, the bird, laden with spices, comes to the altar, and smiting upon the hard stone with its beak, it causes the flame to leap forth and set fire to the wood and the spices. When the fire is burning brightly, the phœnix lays itself upon the altar and is burned to dust and ashes.  1
  Then comes the priest and finds the ashes piled up, and separating them softly he finds within a little worm, which gives forth an odor sweeter than that of roses or of any other flower. The next day and the next the priest comes again, and on the third day he finds that the worm has become a full-grown and full-fledged bird, which bows low before him and flies away, glad and joyous, nor returns again before five hundred years. 2  2
 
Note 1.
  “Were man as rare as phœnix.”
—‘As You Like It,’ iv. 3.    [back]
Note 2.
              “But as when
The Bird of Wonder dies, the maiden phœnix,
Her ashes new create another heir.”
—‘Henry VIII.,’ v. 5.    [back]
 
 
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