Guest poem submitted by Mac Robb:
(Poem #1491) The Silver Swan
The silver swan, who living had no note, When death approach'd, unlock'd her silent throat; Leaning her breast against the reedy shore, Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more. Farewell, all joys; O Death, come close mine eyes; More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.
I searched the archives and noticed that Orlando Gibbons's "The Silver Swan" hasn't yet appeared. First published in The first Set of Madrigals and Motets of 5. Parts, 1612, "The Silver Swan" -- whence the cliché "swan song;" and so pithy it could be a graffito -- is often credited to "Anonymous," but the Norton Anthology considers that Gibbons (1583-1625) wrote the words as well as the music. He was one of the last of the madrigalists and may have been "mourning the demise of his art," as Norton has it. But beyond being the leading composer of his generation he was also a pioneer of one of the greatest periods of chamber and sacred choral music under James I and Charles I, in which English composers continued to be pre-eminent in Europe. Perhaps Gibbons wasn't talking about madrigals in particular so much as the Renaissance musical tradition which flourished under Elizabeth I, more broadly the Elizabethan efflorescence of the arts and letters in general, and more broadly still, the religious and political stability that Elizabeth maintained and the Stuarts squandered. By 1612 Shakespeare and his contemporaries were gone or soon to be so; the King James Bible had just been published in a vain attempt to resolve the religious tensions among people of various reforming and conserving tendencies; and Henry IV of France's quip that James was the wisest fool in Christendom had already become famous. Mac Robb Brisbane, Australia