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Phoenix

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.

Thomas Moore: Paradisc and the Pert.

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.

A phoenix among women. A phoenix of his kind.
A paragon, unique; because there was but one phoenix at a time.

If she be furnished with a mind so rare,
She is alone the Arabian bird.

Shakespeare: Cymbeline, 1.7. The Spanish Phoenix. Lope de Vega is so called by G. H. Lewes.

Insigne poeta, a cuyo verso o prosa
Ninguno le aventaja ni aun Mega.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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