The Myth of the Phoenix

The Phoenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in many mythologies from the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. The legend of the Phoenix has been around for centuries, it’s a supernatural creature with a life of a thousand years. Once its life is up it will cast itself in flames, and as it dies it will be reborn again from its own ashes. The Phoenix has long been presented as a symbol of rebirth, immortality, and renewal. The Phoenix can be interpreted in various ways; lets explore and define this mythical creature that is reborn from its ashes.

What does the Phoenix tell us, we will first explore Amy Clampitts view and representation of the Phoenix. Amy concentrates on the flaming burning death of the bird and dismisses its rebirth as something negative. In comparison to Denise Levertov’s poem her representation is that the Phoenix represents the learning aspect of life, your future has not been written but learn from the “ashes and remains” of the past. May Sarton take’s more of a traditional aspect of the mythical bird. The phoenix in this interpretation is seen as a symbol of motivation and rebirth.

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The Phoenix tells us to never give up for our rebirth will make us stronger. In Clampitts poem Berceuse she begins by describing the lullaby that comes from the phoenix as it reaches its death. The song to her is only a reminder of the Phoenix decaying as perishable as burnt paper. Most describe the Phoenix as something bold and positively meaningful, Amy Clampitt takes an optimistic perspective and sees the glass half empty in relation. Her boldest words; “ and sleep, now the furnaces of Auschwitz are all out, and tourist go there.

The purest art has slept with turpitude”. She describes here that the terrible things happened in the Auschwitz camps are now used as tourist sites, and that the immorality of this place should remain asleep. The poem drastically becomes stronger in meaning as she writes “ the day of waking waits, cloned from the phoenix a thousand replicas in upright silos”. As if evil is dormant and like a silo where ammunition is kept, the anguish from the inferno of war awaits to be wakened like a thousand lives of the Phoenix.

In line ten Amy Clampitt writes “nurseries of the ultimate enterprise”, here she may refer to the “nurseries “ as our children of the future becoming the enterprise of soldiers and war. “The rotten fabric of our repose connives with doomsday”, this tells us that while we rest assured that pain will come again as doomsday. “Sleep on, scathed felicity. Sleep, rare and perishable relic. ” Amy Clampitt says here to try and sleep on scorched damaged happiness, but sleep infrequently because the past is with us and alive.

In Her last line she encapsulates Berceuse with a fantastic conclusion “Imagining ‘s no shutter against the absolute incorrigible sunrise”, in her existential resonance of the phoenix she believes as long as there is a sunrise then horrible things will continue to repeat themselves. Amy Clampitt also addresses not to bring memory to what happened during the Holocaust, for there is assurance that the dreadful past will repeat itself. As mesmerizing as the legend of the Phoenix may be, its fiery death to Amy Clampitt is viewed as a painful suffering that is relived through humanity.

Denise Levertov takes a different approach to the Phoenix. Hunting the Phoenix was slightly more difficult to analyze its continuity. I feel that what Denise Levertov is trying to deliver through the meaning of the Phoenix is a lesson of life and learning. For instance “Leaf through discolored manuscripts, make sure no words lie thirsting, bleeding, waiting for rescue. No”, what Levertov is saying in these first lines is that your future has not been written yet. There are no words or instruction in your manuscripts, so don’t wait for someone to rescue you or to show you the path.

She then writes “articulated, moments forced out of the stream of perception to play statue and never released they had no blood to shed. ” Here I feel that Levertov may be speaking of the elders around us “articulated, moments forced”. What she is trying to convey is to create your own destiny don’t let the streams of perception get the best of you; for those that surround you will not help you and like a statue they have no blood to shed. You yourself! Shall shed your own blood to create your path.

In her last stanza she write “ You must seek the ashy nest itself if you hope to find charred feathers, smoldering flight bones, and a twist of singing flame. ” I perceive that this means that you must seek your own place in life, find your nest but learn from the past and what you have left behind. The interpretation of the poem to the Phoenix is that we must take our encounters and associate them to our past. Denise Levertov says go to the “ashy nest itself” and you may find what you are looking.

May sartons’ poem The Phoenix Again is my favorite out of the three; her perspective is the most positive and inspiring. I consider it my favorite because it follows the folklore myths of the Phoenix and its traditional meaning. The pome’s first few lines describes the rebirth of the Phoenix. Beginning with line nine May Sarton writes “you cannot call it old you cannot call it young, No Phoenix can be told, this is the end of song. ” for aging goes beyond the Phoenix and the inevitable realization of death; for neither old nor young the phoenix will not die.

Like us the Phoenix’s time should never run down or shall it fall. As fire will guide us like light, to a rebirth with a new beginning we rise from our ashes. May Sarton continues describing the valiant bird “ it struggles now alone against death and self doubt, But underneath the bone The wings are pushing out. ” She describes here that the many struggles we face along with all of our self-doubt, like the Phoenix we shall push through the vigorous times and spread our wings. May Sarton teaches us to push trough these tough moments and shine like the Phoenix we are!

In lines seventeen she writes “ and one cold starry night Whatever your belief The phoenix will take flight over the seas of grief. ” For the image of the Phoenix is an image we can trust and will take flight over the seas of grief. At times things may look their worst but tomorrow will come so look towards the future because it is bright. May Sarton’s final lines read “ To hear her thrilling song To stars and waves and sky For neither old nor young The phoenix does not die. ” What May Sarton may be trying to say here is to find that thrilling song of rebirth, from the stars to the waves and the skies.

Be optimistic of the future for there is another day, the Phoenix does not die and neither should we. These three poets have described their own perspective of the symbol, life and rebirth of the Phoenix. All three were very interesting in their own ways. Amy Clampitt explored the view of the Phoenix as compared to the monotonous vile things that have happened to humanity. Through her eyes we see the Phoenix as a symbol of hatred, war and doom that will continue to transpire.

Denise Levertov’s view of the phoenix is also interesting she believes that the phoenix is a symbol of experience. That one should learn from their mistakes and expect for things to come. For when they do, be sure to look into the signs of history to find the answers. May Sarton’s view of the phoenix is that the future is prosperous, life may seem at it’s worst now but look ahead for brighter days. The bird must fall in order to survive, for fire is the light to our compelling rebirth of our lives. The Phoenix and symbol it carries may be interpreted in various meanings.

We can see the hardship of these writers trough the description of the Phoenix. Some see the Phoenix as meaning of a remembrance of horrible acts that remain alive. Others see the symbol of the bird as a learning experience from where one has to take what we have learned and turn into a learning experience. But Lastly the conventional meaning of the Phoenix as a sign of hope and continuous life. Along with the energizing fact that tomorrow is a gift that irrefutably gives us all a fresh start a new beginning of a rebirth.