Early on the feast of the Holy Innocents (technically yesterday), there were two swans feeding in the lake righy by the house where my grandparents used to live. We had seen these swans, together with four others, a couple of days ago in flight up the valley where my parents live, and then again, though possibly not the same ones, at a different part of the lake shortly after that. It was a beautiful sight to see them dive for food and then float nonchalantly on the surface, defying the cold and the ice that slowly spreads in shards across the lake. It reminded me of the poem The Wild Swans at Coole, by William Butler Yeats, which I include towards the end of this blogpost.
The Wild Swans at Coole
(courtesy of this website)
The trees are in their autumn beauty, The woodland paths are dry, Under the October twilight the water Mirrors a still sky; Upon the brimming water among the stones Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me Since I first made my count; I saw, before I had well finished, All suddenly mount And scatter wheeling in great broken rings Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures, And now my heart is sore. All's changed since I, hearing at twilight, The first time on this shore, The bell-beat of their wings above my head, Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover, They paddle in the cold Companionable streams or climb the air; Their hearts have not grown old; Passion or conquest, wander where they will, Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water, Mysterious, beautiful; Among what rushes will they build, By what lake's edge or pool Delight men's eyes when I awake some day To find they have flown away?