our friend the swan



William Butler Yeats




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?




It never ceases to amaze me when I see swans here in Germany.  In New York they live exclusively in captivity or in very close proximity to duck ponds.  I had never seen them fly, in a city or in the wild.  So, seeing them here simply going about their business is always a treat.  In fact there are quite a lot of swans here.  This past week I was lucky enough to go for a leisurely walk the southeast part of Berlin and see a lovely swan swimming in the Zeutener See.  They are surprisingly big and a little bit scary (I really like my fingers…all ten of them), but their beauty makes it easy to overcome a little fear…




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