The turtle dove is a migratory bird that ranges from the extremes of Scandinavia to northern Africa depending on the season. It has a low, mournful cry that brings feelings of love and loss to the human ear. This gift sees a most apt reflection at this time of year as we gather with family and friends, renewing bonds that have waited these many months as life happens and schedules conflict.
All the while we hurtle toward that coldest, darkest reach of our yearly journey around the sun, just days off now beckoning us to put our relationships in order as the year dies.
Kevin has never drawn, as far as he remembers (he draws a lot), a turtle dove which looks something like this.
He has, however drawn both doves and turtles, and in the spirit of illustration, we give you the second day of Christmas art.
On the second day, my truelove gave to me,
Two Turtle Doves.
The turtle dove plays a prominent role in love literature throughout the world and through history, even making appearances it the Bible. William Shakespeare wrote what has been called the first published metaphysical poem about death and the ideal of love titled, appropriately The phoenix and the Turtle which Robert Chester prefaced with this brief dedication.
Phoenix of beautie, beauteous, Bird of any
To thee I do entitle all my labour,
More precious in mine eye by far then many
That feedst all earthly sences with thy savour:
Accept my home-writ praises of thy love,
And kind acceptance of thy Turtle-dove
The Phoenix and the Turtle
Let the bird of loudest lay,
On the sole Arabian tree,
Herald sad and trumpet be,
To whose sound chaste wings obey.
But thou, shriking harbinger,
Foul pre-currer of the fiend,
Augur of the fever’s end,
To this troop come thou not near.
From this session interdict
Every fowl of tyrant wing,
Save the eagle, feather’d king:
Keep the obsequy so strict.
Let the priest in surplice white,
That defunctive music can,
Be the death-divining swan,
Lest the requiem lack his right.
And thou, treble-dated crow,
That thy sable gender mak’st
With the breath thou giv’st and tak’st,
‘Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.
Here the anthem doth commence:
Love and constancy is dead;
Phoenix and the turtle fled
In a mutual flame from hence.
So they lov’d, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none:
Number there in love was slain.
Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
Distance, and no space was seen
‘Twixt the turtle and his queen;
But in them it were a wonder.
So between them love did shine,
That the turtle saw his right
Flaming in the phoenix’ sight:
Either was the other’s mine.
Property was thus appall’d,
That the self was not the same;
Single nature’s double name
Neither two nor one was call’d.
Reason, in itself confounded,
Saw division grow together;
To themselves yet either-neither,
Simple were so well compounded
That it cried how true a twain
Seemeth this concordant one!
Love hath reason, reason none
If what parts can so remain.
Whereupon it made this threne
To the phoenix and the dove,
Co-supreme and stars of love;
As chorus to their tragic scene.
Beauty, truth, and rarity.
Grace in all simplicity,
Here enclos’d in cinders lie.
Death is now the phoenix’ nest;
And the turtle’s loyal breast
To eternity doth rest,
Leaving no posterity:–
‘Twas not their infirmity,
It was married chastity.
Truth may seem, but cannot be:
Beauty brag, but ’tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.
To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair;
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.