Owing to some unicorns actually having existed over time, by whichever means, the unicorn embodies an ideal that one could say, teases us, with a possibility, a glimmer of hope that they may be real. For some, beyond doubt. It is perhaps a dream like creature, one that hints that it just may be real if the universe were perfect.
What makes it perhaps more real, is that it is not overly fantastic, but rather, a small step from the norm.
In the Song Of Alexander written by Pfaffen Lamprecht in the 12th century, a gift is mentioned from Queen Candace to Alexander, a gem more precious than a unicorn horn :
I had from this most wealthy queen A beast of proud and noble mien That bears in his brow the ruby-stone And yields himself to maids alone. But few such Unicorns are found On this or any other ground, And only such are ever captured As pure virgins have enraptured. No man yet of woman born Endures the terror of his horn.
In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s, Parzival, the stone is mentioned as one of the remedies applied to the Grail Kings wounds ( in vain as it happens, since nothing but the attainment of the Grail can do that ) :
We caught the beast called the Unicorn That knows and loves a maiden best And falls asleep upon her breast; We took from underneath his horn The splendid male carbuncle stone Sparkling against the white skull-bone.
In another romantic novel The Magic Horn by Achim von Arims, a young farmer sings of his dairymaid lover :
With sunbeams dazzling my pursuers Like a unicorn free do I bound Till even, away from my tortures To virgins lap escape I've found To catch me with gossamer she knew But with the dawn she set me free On her lashes gazed I true But those sweet eyes she shut on me