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Re: Origin of "Halcyon Days"

Posted by James Briggs on April 02, 2003

In Reply to: Origin of "Halcyon Days" posted by Dorothy Doyle on April 02, 2003

: When I look up "halcyon days" in the phrase finder, it tells me that the origin is Shakespeare. However, I am certain that I read a story, mythology or Greek lit., that included a scene where two birds floated on the sea (or two people likened to two birds in a nest), enjoying the beautiful days and the gentle motion of the water. That time represented a period of great happiness and peace in their lives. It seems to me that it preceeded a period of great stress. That seems to be the way Shakespeare used the phrase, which further convinces me that he was referring to the same story I am vaguely recalling. Anyone remember where this phrase originally came from?

My book of English Etymology says that 'Halcyon' is a fabled bird, said to breed at sea: c14thC. This is related to the Greek for Kingfisher, in turn applied to the 14 days that the Kingfisher broods and the sea is said to be calm.