In Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, (in Act 1, scene 7, to be precise) Iachimo refers to Imogen as an ‘Arabian Bird’. The full quote is,
“All of her that is out of door most rich!
If she be furnish’d with a mind so rare,
She is alone th’ Arabian bird.”
After reading this I was puzzled about what he meant by Arabian bird… To my surprise it was another word for Phoenix and it sent me down a rabbit hole of reading about bird symbolism in Cymbeline. In this play, Imogen’s story is a tail (not pony tails or cotton tails -no DUCKTALES) sorry, sorry, I got distracted by the fact I misspelled ‘tale’ for a second there… right, lemme try that again – Imogen’s tale has been compared to the phoenix’s life cycle, meaning that a fall from grace and subsequent redemption through love and forgiveness can create something as powerful as rebirth (since Imogen actually does die and wake up again – Shakespeare likes that trick, doesn’t he?) But, according to my rabbit hole sources (here and here) the phoenix (and Imogen in this case) also symbolizes chastity because it is androgynous and requires no mate, as well as peace and all the rather obvious symbolic connections to Christ. More than anything else, I like the term ‘Arabian Bird’ for Phoenix, and, well, jeez, I’m a sucker for symbolism. I could read about that shit for hours – it takes me back to my Cinema Studies days at Uni. Did you know I have a Arts Degree majoring in Cinema Studies? Yeah, I didn’t really use that after I got it. At all!
Anyway, considering Phoenix’s are meant to have some purple plumage, and climb up a tree and self combust on their 500th birthday, I thought I’d title this post Arabian Bird. Am I 500 years old? No? Am I feeling like a phoenix who is almost at the end of one cycle or part of my life and ready for the next stage in transformation? Yes. Do I want to build a nest and fill it with cinnamon and myrrh? Ummmm…HECK YES!
Jacket: thrifted Dress: Custom Made in Hanoi by my awesome tailor who is now the technical designer for PHO sizzle Scarf: Kashkha Sunnies: Smoke Dreams Hat: I don’t know…Dotti? Gumboots: Target
Thanks to my sister for taking these, and thanks to this awesome tree for being in so many of my posts, and, while I’m at it, thanks for Shakespeare for being so jammed back with symbolism, and for all the scholars that have analysed that symbolism!
This Arabian bird wishes you a HAPPY FRIDAY!