by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Let the bird of loudest lay
Language: English 
Let the bird of loudest lay
  On the sole Arabian tree,
  Herald sad and trumpet be,
To whose sound chaste wings obey.

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

H. Regt sets stanzas 14-18
C. Brumby sets stanzas 14-18 in (at least) one setting - see below for more information
C. Brumby sets stanzas 14-18 in (at least) one setting - see below for more information
C. Taylor sets stanzas 14-18?

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2011-06-28
Line count: 68
Word count: 353