Swans

[A poem on the occasion of this image, sent to me by Chris Ambidge:]

Les cygnes

Where are the swans of
Yesteryear, royal
Signs — imperious elegant
Petulant?

They’ve become boats,
Carnival creatures, soap logos —
Adorable, reassuring.

How did they go this way?
Wann ist der letzte Schwan gefahren?

7 Responses to “Swans”

  1. Slowmoto Says:

    Thought inducing poem – capitalizing on a Swan’s beauty, lessens the beauty. Very nice.

  2. Gary Says:

    Niggling pedantic note: Fahren uses sein as perfect-forming auxiliary, so the last line should read Wann ist der letzte Schwan gefahren?

    Is this intended as a reference to Yussi Bjoerling’s crack “when is the next swan?”, after the stagehands at the Met pulled his Lohengrin getaway swan off the stage before he got on it?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Thanks for the auxiliary correction. I’ve altered the text.

      Yes, it was intended as a reference to the Lohengrin story — but the story seems to have been about Leo Slezak rather than Jussi Björling. From the Wikipedia page on Slezak:

      He was a convivial person, and many anecdotes reveal his amiable sense of humour. The best-known example is as follows: during a performance of Wagner’s Lohengrin, a stage hand sent the swan out too early, before the tenor could hop aboard. Seeing his feathered transportation disappear into the wings, Slezak ad-libbed to the audience: “Wann fährt der nächste Schwan?” (“When does the next swan leave?”).

  3. Chris Ambidge Says:

    aRNuLd thankYu foR the pOMe aboWT SWaNZZ!

    – yr fRend ELliott J SwaN

  4. Chris Hansen Says:

    I thought that all the swans in England were being caught, cooked, and eaten by Gypsies and Travellers. At least that’s what the tabloid press says is happening to them…

  5. Gary Says:

    Then England has changed since this limerick made the rounds:

    There was a young man from St John’s
    Who wanted to bugger the swans
    “Oh no,” said the porter,
    “Please take my daughter,
    The swans are reserved for the dons”

Leave a Reply to Chris Ambidge Cancel reply


%d bloggers like this: