Guest poem sent in by Radhika Gowaikar
(Poem #1939) The Wild Swans at Coole
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?
I am surprised that we haven't run this before. I think the line, "And scatter wheeling in great broken rings" is what does it for me. It is as if Yeats is part of the picture with the swans and yet remains a mere onlooker. The line describes the image in my mind perfectly. The idea of returning to a place time after time and contrasting the changes in oneself with the (apparent) constancy of the surroundings is not exactly novel. But this poem does it justice. Perhaps the popularity of the idea stems the fact that we are all practitioners of it, though not always consciously. -- radhika. Notes: 1. Coole Park and Gardens are understandably pround of their connection to Yeats. http://www.coolepark.ie/ 2. I am also reminded of this poem/song http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=8272 Men reminiscing by the water.