The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish (Phoenix Poets)

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It is a word you have to be careful with in China as it is also a slang term for a homosexual. The eagle is not a particularly widely used symbol in Chinese art, it is sometimes used to symbolize strength. Eagle tail feathers were considered a potent charm. An eagle in a pine tree wishes strength in old age; while an eagle on a rock symbolizes a lonely struggle. A goose is a symbol of marital fidelity like the mandarin duck as it mates for life and often flies in pairs.

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An old tradition for marriage gifts reinforces this, the bridegroom's family was given a gander and the bride's family a goose. Wild geese are symbolic of separation as they migrate south in winter. The sage of calligraphy Wang Xizhi is often shown with a pair of geese of which he was very fond, it is believed the geese may have influenced his writing style. The Mongol khans in common with the people of Central Asia today were very fond of falconry. Marco Polo , with his customary exaggeration, describes an excursion of Emperor Kubai Khan took 70, attendants with eagles large enough to take away wolves.

The heron often features in Chinese poems together with the marshes and lakes it likes to inhabit. There are several species of Kingfisher in China that are all admired for their bright, iridescent plumage. The feathers have been used to create colorful artwork collages. The magpie is universally admired for its intelligence and guile but it can be a nuisance to farmers. If the character is shown upside down, like fu good fortune , it means happiness is arriving. Another legend features a hand mirror broken in two so husband and wife could each take one part, if either party was unfaithful then the mirror turned into a magpie and flew back to the aggrieved partner.

This is why magpies became a favorite decoration for the backs of mirrors. If a magpie happens to be heard while ruminating on an action is considered a sign that the plan is the right one. The founding father of the Manchu dynasty is said to have been prevented from taking an unwise military action by a magpie landing on his head. There is also a legend that he was the son of a magpie.

It is considered lucky if a magpie builds its nest near a home.

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Pictures with magpies, bamboos and plums signify a wish for marital joy. A pair of magpies symbolize marital bliss double happiness. The oriole has a beautiful song and so is associated with joy. The bird symbolizes friendship when depicted in pictures. With peony and plum blossom it expresses a wish for joy to arrive with Spring.

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An association with young female beauty makes it also crop up in descriptions of prostitutes and brothels. For the Chinese owls are birds of ill omen. One legend is that young owls only left the nest after pecking out the eyes of their mothers. Its call was taken as a sign that someone had died. A picture of an owl was used as a talisman, often on roofs, to keep away evil spirits. In China the parrot is only found in the wild in the southern provinces but has been kept elsewhere as a caged bird for thousands of years.

For decoration it is mainly used as a colorful motif on porcelain. Its talkative nature is presumed to keep wives faithful in Guangxi as the parrots were liable to give the game away. Perhaps from this it became to be a symbol for a loose woman. A parrot is often associated with the Buddhist deity Guanyin holding a pearl in its beak. The word for parrot can also mean a young girl. It is an emblem of beauty and dignity.

In the Ming and Qing dynasties the seniority of officials could be judged by the number of peacock feathers he wore in his hat. So peacocks in decoration can represent the wish to become an official. The Queen Mother of the West is sometimes depicted riding a peacock or with peacock feathers in her hair. There is a legend of a beautiful daughter who set a challenge to select the man to marry her.

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Moreover the naming of almost all the gods has come to Hellas from Egypt: for that it has come from the Barbarians I find byinquiry is true, and I am of the opinion that most probably it has come from Egypt, because, except in the case of Poseidon and the Dioscuroi in accordance with that which I have said before , and also of Hera and Hestia and Themis and the Charites and Nereids, the Egyptians have had the names of all the other gods in their country for all time. What I say here is that which the Egyptians say themselves; but as for the gods whose names they profess that they do not know, these I think received their naming from the Pelasgians, except Poseidon; but about this god the Hellenes learnt from the Libyans, for no people except the Libyans have had the name of Poseidon from the first and have paid honour to this god always.

Nor, it may be added, have the Egyptians any custom of worshipping heroes.

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These observance so then, and others besides these which I shall mention, the Hellenes have adopted from the Egyptians; but to make, as they do, the images of Hermes with the phallos they have learnt not from the Egyptians but from the Pelasgians, the custom having been received by the Athenians first of all the Hellenes and from these by the rest; for just at the time when the Athenians were beginning to rank among the Hellenes, the Pelasgians become dwellers with them in their land, and from this very cause it was that they began to be counted as Hellenes.

Whosoever has been initiated in the mysteries of the Cabeiroi, which the Samothrakians perform having received them from the Pelasgians, that man knows the meaning of my speech; for there very Pelasgians who became dwellers with the Athenians used to dwell before that time in Samothrake, and from them the Samothrakians received their mysteries. So then the Athenians were the first of the Hellenes who made the images of Hermes with the phallos, having learnt from the Pelasgians; and the Pelasgians told a sacred story about it, which is set forth in the mysteries in Samothrake.

Now the Pelasgians formerly were wont to make all their sacrifices calling upon the gods in prayer, as I know from that which I heard at Dodona, but they gave no title or name to any of them, for they had not yet heard any, but they called them gods [Greek] from some such notion as this, that they had set [Greek] in order all things and so had the distribution of everything. Afterwards when much time had elapsed, they learnt from Egypt the names of thegods, all except Dionysos, for his name they learnt long afterwards; and after a time the Pelasgians consulted the Oracle at Dodona about the names, for this prophetic seat is accounted to be the most ancient of the Oracles which are among the Hellenes, and at that time it was the only one.

So when the Pelasgians asked the Oracle at Dodona whether they should adopt the names which had come from the Barbarians, the Oracle in reply bade them make use of the names. From this time they sacrificed using the names of the gods, and from the Pelasgians the Hellenes afterwards received them: but whence the several gods had their birth, or whether they all were from the beginning, and of what form they are, they did not learn till yesterday, as it were, or the day before: for Hesiod and Homer I suppose were four hundred years before my time and not more, and these are they who made a theogony for the Hellenes and gave the titles to the gods and distributed to them honours and arts, and set forth their forms: but the poets who are said to have been before these men were really in my opinion after them.

Of these things the first are said by the priestesses of Dodona, and the latter things, those namely which have regard to Hesiod and Homer, by myself. As regards the Oracles both that among the Hellenes and that in Libya, the Egyptians tell the following tale. The priests of the Theban Zeus told me that two women in the service of the temple had been carried away from Thebes by Phenicians, and that they had heard that one of them had been sold to go into Libya and the other to the Hellenes; and these women, they said, were they who first founded the prophetic seats among the nations which have been named: and when I inquired whence they knew so perfectly of this tale which they told, they said in reply that a great search had been made by the priests after these women, and that they had not been able to find them, but they had heard afterwards this tale about them which they were telling.

This I heard from the priests at Thebes, and what follows is said by the prophetesses of Dodona. They say that two black doves flew from Thebes in Egypt, and came one of them to Libya and the other to their land. And this latter settled upon an oak-tree and spoke with human voice, saying that it was necessary that a prophetic seat of Zeus should be establishedin that place; and they supposed that that was of the gods which was announced to them, and made one accordingly: and the dove which went away to the Libyans, they say, bade the Libyans make an Oracle of Ammon; and this also is of Zeus.

The priestesses of Dodona told me these things, of whom the eldest was named Promeneia, the next after her Timarete, and the youngest Nicandra; and the other people of Dodona who were engaged about the temple gave accounts agreeing with theirs. Moreover, I think that the women were called doves by the people of Dodona for the reason that they were Barbarians and because it seemed to them that they uttered voice like birds; but after a time they say the dove spoke with human voice, that is when the woman began to speak so that they could understand; but so long as she spoke a Barbarian tongue she seemed to them to be uttering voice like a bird: for if it had been really a dove, how could it speak with human voice?

And in saying that the dove was black, they indicate that the woman was Egyptian. The ways of delivering oracles too at Thebes in Egypt and at Dodona closely resemble one another, as it happens, and also the method of divination by victims has come from Egypt. Moreover, it is true also that the Egyptians were the first of men who made solemnassemblies and processions and approaches to the temples, and from them the Hellenes have learnt them, and my evidence for this is that the Egyptian celebrations of these have been held from a very ancient time, whereas the Hellenic were introduced but lately.

This they do by every city along the river-bank; and when they come to Bubastis they hold festival celebrating great sacrifices, and more wine of grapes is consumed upon that festival than during the whole of the rest of the year. To this place so say the natives they come together year by year even to the number of seventy myriads of men and women, besides children. Thus it is done here; and how they celebrate the festival in honour of Isis at the city of Busiris has been told by me before: for, as I said, they beat themselves in mourning after the sacrifice, all of them both men and women, very many myriads of people; but for whom they beat themselves it is not permitted to me by religion to say: and so many as there are of the Carians dwelling in Egypt do this even more than the Egyptians themselves, inasmuch as they cut their foreheads also with knives; and by this it is manifested that they are strangers and not Egyptians.

To Heliopolis and Buto they go year by year and do sacrifice only: but at Papremis they do sacrifice and worship as elsewhere, and besides that, when the sun begins to go down, while some few of the priests are occupied with the image of the god, the greater number of them stand in the entrance of the temple with wooden clubs, and other persons to the number of more than a thousand men with purpose to perform a vow, these also having all of them staves of wood, stand in a body opposite to those: and the image, which is in a small shrine of wood covered over with gold, they take out on the day before to another sacred building.

The few then who have been left about the image, draw a wain with four wheels, which bears the shrine and the image that is within the shrine, and the other priests standing in the gateway try to prevent it from entering, and the men who are under a vow come to the assistance of the god and strike them, while the others defend themselves.

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Hence, they say, this exchange of blows has become the custom in honour of Ares upon his festival. The Egyptians were the first who made it a point of religion not to lie with women in temples, nor to enter into temples after going away from women without first bathing: for almost all other men except the Egyptians and the Hellenes lie with women in temples and enter into a temple after going away from women without bathing, since they hold that there is no difference in this respect between men and beasts: for they say that they see beasts and the various kinds of birds coupling together both in the temples and in the sacred enclosures of the gods; if then this were not pleasing to the god, the beasts would not do so.

But if I should say for what reasons the sacred animals have been thus dedicated, I should fall into discourse of matters pertaining to the gods, of which I most desire not to speak; and what I have actually said touching slightly upon them, I said because I was constrained by necessity. Thus food for their support has been appointed: and if any one kill any of these animals, the penalty, if he do it with his own will, is death, and if against his will, such penalty as the priests may appoint: but whosoever shall kill an ibis or a hawk, whether it be with his will or against his will, must die.

Of the animals that live with men there are great numbers, and would be many more but for the accidents which befall the cats. For when the females have produced young they are no longer in the habit of going to the males, and these seeking to be united with them are not able. Moreover when a fire occurs, the cats seem to be divinely possessed; for while the Egyptians stand at intervals and look after the cats, not taking any care to extinguish the fire, the cats slipping through or leaping over the men, jump into the fire; and when this happens, great mourning comes upon the Egyptians.

National Poetry Month. American Poets Magazine. Poems Find and share the perfect poems. Close Reading. The figure is gaslit even if anachronistic. What happens to the woods in a maiden name? Or is the figure to borrow from that other invention? Could I carve open a pinhole in the shinebox for its storehouse of inverted images?

Brandon Som Yesenia Montilla I, a parched field, and not a spit of rain. Now he and I no longer speak.