The Phoenix

One evening bright with blazing cloud
I climbed a rocky crest,
and saw the Phoenix tall and proud
building up his nest.

He built his pyre upon a hill
as barren as a skull,
dragging the wormwood in his bill,
the cypress in his claw.

With purple plumage streaked with brown,
he heaped up withered moss,
and dripping blood from back and crown,
he laid the logs across.

I saw him stand against the west,
the sun descending low;
in lonely sorrow on his nest
he bowed and watched it go.

And then he raised his noble head;
unshamed I saw him stand—
against the swiftly-fading red
he bore a blazing brand.

But brighter yet his eyes of fire
that burned with living flame,
for he forswore upon that pyre
all dread and fear of shame.

And down he plunged the blazing light,
and upward leaped the fire;
he cried with triumph, and the night
rang out in echoed choir.

And all that night I saw him burn
atop that barren crest.
And in three days, when I return
I’ll see him leave his nest.

—Lynn Michael Martin

This poem is written in the ballad form and is intended to an extent to mirror the style of ballads, with compact word-pictures and elliptical phrases, though its content is much more allegorical.