By John Tzetza
, from the 12th century
. Translated by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A Phoenix is a single bird and synchronous with nature;
The peacock cannot equal him in beauty or in stature.
In radiance he outshines the gold; the world in wonder yieldeth;
His nest he fixeth in the trees, and all of spices buildeth.
And when he dies, a little worm, from out his body twining,
Doth generate him back again whene'er the sun is shining.
He lives in Aegypt, and he dies in Aethiopia only, as
Asserts Philostratus, who wrote the life of Apollonius.
And (as the wise Aegyptian scribe, the holy scribe, Chaeremon,
Hath entered on these Institutes, all centre their esteem on)
Seven thousand years and six of age, this phoenix of the story
Expireth from the fair Nile side, whereby he had his glory.