(By Colleen McCullough, Great Britian, 1980)
There is a legend about a bird
which sings just once in its life,
more sweetly than any other creature
on the face of the earth.
From the moment it leaves the nest
it searches for a thorn tree,
and does not rest until it has found one.
Then, singing among the savage branches,
it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine.
And, dying, it rises above its own agony
to outcarol the lark and the nightingale.
One superlative song, existence the price.
But the whole world stills to listen,
and the gods in their heaven smile.
For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain...
Or so says the legend..
N.B. I undertstand that the Legend of the Thornbird is derived from an actual legend that exists in Welsh mythology.