Saturday, January 18, 2014

Swan Song, not

I've lived in the Twin Cities area for something like 40 years now. In that time I learned about the trumpeter swan recovery that started in the Carver Park Reserve. Since I've lived mostly on the east side of the metro area, I rarely got to see the swans that lived in western Hennepin County. During the past few years, I've noticed swans on occasion along the St. Croix River. The whole family has made at least one trip to Alma to see if we could catch the migrating flocks (poor timing, no success).

St. Croix River in Summer
St. Croix River in Summer         © harrington

When I started doing research for a writing project I'm working on, I specifically searched the internet for mention of swans + St. Croix River. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that swans winter over in several locations in the St. Croix valley, including Wild River State Park, near the Willow River's confluence with the St. Croix as well as at Hudson WI. If the rest of 2014 provides as many gratifying surprises as these first few weeks, it should be a great year. Do you think Yates is writing just about swans or about...?

The Wild Swans at Coole

By 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?

Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Be kind to each other while you can.