Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Phoenix and the Turtle


i approached this poem this evening with excitement. i read the introduction and learned that this is a love poem. i thought... SCORE! i am in love. i've had a lot of different ups and downs with relationships. i feel like i can relate to a solid love poem. and guess what else? it's short! it's so so sooo short. shortest thing i've read! DOUBLE SCORE! and i just got out of rehearsal, during which we had a hard core come to Jesus talk that was really productive and invigorating. perfect! i'm ready to take on the world! and then... i tried to read the poem...

here is what i got from it:
there is some sort of plea with death. the phoenix and the turtle, in love with each other, have died. together, i think. the phoenix and turtle, in death as in love, are like one being. they have become one. reason is confounded by this love. it doesn't make sense to him. then there is a subtitle that says 'threnos'. i have no idea what that means, and it's not explained. this section elaborates on the fact that they are gone and all the beautiful things they represent are gone with them. they have left nothing behind. i'm really not sure what's going on in the last two stanzas.

the phoenix represents woman and everlasting life. the turtle represents men and everlasting love. i love the idea that they become one being, and that no science or math can explain that. that is lovely.

i feel pretty stupid that so much of this is lost on me. is there someone out there who knows more about this?

quote of the day:
'Reason, in itself confounded,
saw division grow together,
to themselves yet either neither,
simple were so well compounded,'
     -lines 41-44

for tomorrow: 3 henry 6 introduction and background

3 plays and 3 poems down. 35 plays, 2 poems, and 154 sonnets to go!

-rebecca may


  1. Sometimes revelations take time to come to us. At the pace you are consuming Shakespeare this year, I would feel concerned if you thought you grasped everything all at once. Often, literature and philosophy require time to digest. Maybe you can re-visit this poem again.

  2. I think it is lost on everybody. I just read it too and it left me scratching my head. My Complete Works introduction says it is pretty much a puzzling piece.

  3. susan, good point! jaime, thanks for the attempt!