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First, it starts like infant's first scream,
Then, it grows as though in a dream.

Next, it dims as the end draws near,
Last, it ends as gone's all that's dear.

Thus, anew recurs its first breath,
Endless cycle of life and death.

With each turn, all creatures obey,
The cycle that holds, the greatest of sway.

What cycle is this talking about?

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    $\begingroup$ This is probably going to get a lot of answers. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Nov 2 '16 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ Possibly, I hadn't thought of the pheonix answer, but I don't think there will be too many that fit the lines properly. $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Nov 2 '16 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I just mean that anything that cycles on and off can fit fairly well. Like a furnace, refrigerator, compressor, moon phases, daylight, songs on a playlist, traffic during rush hour, tides, etc. If you take the clues figuratively, there's not much opposing those. If, however, the words "scream", "dream", "dims", "dear", "death", and "breath" are taken more literally, that might narrow it down. (But often riddles are meant to be taken a bit figuratively.) $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Nov 2 '16 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Dan and worry that this is just too broad. But perhaps when we see the Right Answer it will be obvious that it's much better than any alternative. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Nov 2 '16 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ I'll see about adding another set of lines to make it a little more specific. $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Nov 2 '16 at 17:32
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Going with...

The Four Seasons

First, it starts like infant's first scream,

Spring is the season of birth

Then, it grows as though in a dream.

Plants, animals grow throughout the summer

Next, it dims as the end draws near,

In the fall, trees lose their leaves and animals prepare for winter by stocking up for hibernation or migrating

Last, it ends as gone's all that's dear.

In the winter, animals are hibernating or have left and plants are covered in snow

Then, anew recurs its first breath, Endless cycles of life and death.

There were 4 steps in it's cycle, in the winter animals/plants die, and the cycle starts over with life in the spring

With each turn, all creatures obey, The cycle that holds, the greatest of sway.

All the creatures follow the seasons

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  • $\begingroup$ This is correct! Good job, what gave it away? $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Nov 2 '16 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ Some countries only have summers, winter(without snow in 99% of parts) and monsoon/rains. :( $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Nov 2 '16 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot It's a general riddle. Most people accept that most of the world has 4 seasons. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Nov 2 '16 at 23:09
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The cycle of the

sun

First, it starts like infant's first scream

(`dusk)

Then, it grows as though in a dream.

(midday)

Next, it dims as the end draws near,

(dawn)

Last, it ends as gone's all that's dear.

(day end)

Thus, anew recurs its first breath,

(morning)

Endless cycle of life and death.

With each turn, all creatures obey

(seasons)

The cycle that holds, the greatest of sway.

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Are you:

Traffic?

First, it starts like infant's first scream,

A wailing horn

Then, it grows as though in a dream.

Still waking up on the commute ;)

Next, it dims as the end draws near,

Traffic eases as the work day comes to an end

Last, it ends as gone's all that's dear.

Not sure on this one

Thus, anew recurs its first breath, Endless cycle of life and death.

With each turn, all creatures obey,

Cars move with the roads/turns

The cycle that holds, the greatest of sway.

Bonus answer: perhaps a motorcycle?

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting thought, but this is wrong. $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Nov 2 '16 at 18:26
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My answer

Water cycle

First, it starts like infant's first scream

Baby crying... water as in tears..

Then, it grows as though in a dream.

Maybe, evaporation of water into water vapour?

Next, it dims as the end draws near,
Last, it ends as gone's all that's dear.

No water means end is near. Water is too precious.

Then, anew recurs its first breath,
Endless cycles of life and death.

With rain, water is back on to the earth. Water cycle determines the life and death of the planet.

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  • $\begingroup$ Once again correct concept, but water cycle itself does not have life and death. $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Nov 2 '16 at 17:27
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Taking this a bit literally, is it:

The Carbon Cycle

First, it starts like infant's first scream,

A baby is born (screaming at the top of their lungs, usually)

Then, it grows as though in a dream.

The child grows up

Next, it dims as the end draws near,

The person ages

Last, it ends as gone's all that's dear.

The person dies, and they decompose back into the ground

Then, anew recurs its first breath, Endless cycles of life and death.

Then everything starts over again

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  • $\begingroup$ Yup, too literal :P, right concept though. $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Nov 2 '16 at 16:52
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It's probably not what you're going for, but I can't shake the idea that it's

A Phoenix

First, it starts like infant's first scream,

Born with a cry from it's own ashes

Then, it grows as though in a dream.

Grows up, but is also mythological

Next, it dims as the end draws near,

Usually weakens, it's fire dimming as it approaches rebirth through age (vs. through violence)

Last, it ends as gone's all that's dear.

Everything dear goes up in flames...

Then, anew recurs its first breath, Endless cycles of life and death.

And is reborn!

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    $\begingroup$ Good thought, but no, this cycle is not mythical. $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Nov 2 '16 at 16:18

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