Said to live a certain number of years, when it makes in Arabia a nest of spices, sings a melodious dirge, flaps his wings to set fire to the pile, burns itself to ashes, and comes forth with new life, to repeat the former one. (See Phoenix Period.)
The enchanted pile of that lonely bird, Who sings at the last his own death-lay, And in music and perfume dies away.
Phoenix, as a sign over chemists' shops, was adopted from the association of this fabulous bird with alchemy. Paracelsus wrote about it, and several of the alchemists employed it to symbolise their vocation.
If she be furnished with a mind so rare, She is alone the Arabian bird.
Insigne poeta, a cuyo verso o prosa Ninguno le aventaja ni aun Mega.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894