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Noah’s Ark (1846), a painting by the American folk painter Edward Hicks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I knew there was a song about the Unicorn missing the boat, Noah’s Ark. I had not retrieved the song, but our WordPress colleague Gallivanta sent me the link. The Unicorn is an important legendary and zoomorphic, creature. Zoomorphic animals combine the features of many animals, including humans. (See Legendary animals, Wikipedia.)

The Bible, the Book of Genesis in particular, is an etiological text, or the pourquoi story of children’s literature, the preeminent example being Rudyard Kipling‘s (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) Just So Stories, in which he describes the origins of a certain animal’s characteristic. How the Camel got its Hump is an example of Rudyard Kipling‘s Just So Stories, published in 1902. Kipling’s book is not restricted to the origin of animal features.

The Dove and the Unicorn resemble one another. For instance, both the dove and the Unicorn are white, and, in Christianity, the Unicorn can only be tamed by a maiden, representing the Virgin Mary, and it stands for the Incarnation.[1] As for the white dove, it represents the Holy Spirit and is also a messenger. In this respect, we must examine doves more closely. Messengers are frequent in the Abrahamic religions, Islam especially. However, the Unicorn is transcultural and the product of man’s imagination.

The medieval bestiary is abundant and it includes several legendary animals many of which are allegorical. The Middle Ages, which ended after Constantinople fell to the Ottomans (1453),[2] was the Golden Age of Bestiaries. Bestiaries are home to several allegorical animals that may be real animals, or fantastical. The Unicorn is featured in the Bible. (See Daniel 8:5, NIV.)


Jesus Christ in his Passion as the Lord of Patience or Lord of Contemplation as offered with the crown of thorns, the scepter reed and mocked by Roman soldiers. Oil on canvas by Matthias Stom.

As we have seen, the Unicorn is featured in the six tapestries known as Dame à la licorne and housed in the Cluny museum, in Paris.

I thank Gallivanta for forwarding the link to the Unicorn song. It was composed by Shel Silverstein, in 1968, and made popular by the Irish Rovers.


Sources and Resources

Love to everyone


[1] Boria Sax, The Mythical Zoo: An Encyclopedia of Animals in World Myth, Legend, and Literature (Santa Barbara, US; Denver, US; Oxford, UK: ABC-CLIO, 2001).
[2] See The Fall of Constantinople, Wikipedia

The Unicorn Song by Shel Silverstein, 1968

Of the Unicorn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
5 July 2018