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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Swan

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The Swan


Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?


- Mary Oliver
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Listen to Yo Yo Ma play Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns.



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Photo of the swan taken at MSU's Hidden Lake Gardens, Tipton, Michigan, March 2007, previously posted at flying.

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46 comments:

kanmuri said...

What a beautiful song! So relaxing! It brings images of slow summer days to my mind.

Patricia said...

Ruth,
Your posting is the perfect prelude to a snowy weekend. Thank you for the beautiful swan image, the poem and music.

Shari Sunday said...

Beautiful. I'm up early drinking coffee and making Christmas to do lists and found your beautiful image and music. So calm and magical. May we all have a calm and happy Merry Christmas!

Bella Rum said...

"A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings"

Thank you, Ruth. I love Mary Oliver. She and my mother share the same birthday.
Bella

Jeanie said...

This is simply a stunner!

*jean* said...

oo thank you! what a lovely way to start the day...beautiful post

CottageGirl said...

Ahhhh! Nice way to start the Christmas break!
Thank you!

Shattered said...

On a sunny, 65 degree day here, your poem and picture are a welcome sight!

ds said...

Oh, perfect! (but you know how I feel about swans--and Ms. Oliver)Now listening to Mr. Ma; his playing always sends (good)shivers up my spine. Thank you for this duvet of a post. After this rest, I feel I can go on...

shicat said...

Thank you Ruth and happy holidays.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Exquisite beauty.
My favourite poet and one of my favourite pieces of music.
Thank you!

Gwen Buchanan said...

exquisite.... and calming...
a trio of beauty...

Deslilas said...

Marcel Proust
Du côté de chez Swan(n)

Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure. Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas le temps de me dire: " Je m’endors. " Et, une demi-heure après, la pensée qu’il était temps de chercher le sommeil m’éveillait; je voulais poser le volume que je croyais avoir encore dans les mains et souffler ma lumière; je n’avais pas cessé en dormant de faire des réflexions sur ce que je venais de faire, mais ces réflexions avaient pris un tour un peu particulier; il me semblait que j’étais moi-même ce dont parlait l’ouvrage: une église, un quatuor, la rivalité de François Ier et de Charles Quint. Cette croyance survivait pendant quelques secondes à mon réveil; elle ne choquait pas ma raison, mais pesait comme des écailles sur mes yeux et les empêchait de se rendre compte que le bougeoir n’était plus allumé. Puis elle commençait à me devenir inintelligible, comme après la métempsycose les pensées d’une existence antérieure; le sujet du livre se détachait de moi, j’étais fibre de m’y appliquer ou non; aussitôt je recouvrais la vue et j’étais bien étonné de trouver autour de moi une obscurité, douce et reposante pour mes yeux, mais peut-être plus encore pour mon esprit, à qui elle apparaissait comme une chose sans cause, incompréhensible, comme une chose vraiment obscure. Je me demandais quelle heure il pouvait être; j’entendais le sifflement des trains qui, plus ou moins éloigné, comme le chant d’un oiseau dans une forêt, relevant les distances, me décrivait l’étendue de la campagne déserte où le voyageur se hâte vers la station prochaine, et le petit chemin qu’il suit va être gravé dans son souvenir par l’excitation qu’il doit à des lieux nouveaux, à des actes inaccoutumés, à la causerie récente et aux adieux sous la lampe étrangère qui le suivent encore dans le silence de la nuit, à la douceur prochaine du retour.


Poor association I admit !

Kamana said...

so graceful and elegant.

Susan said...

Oh, I love that poem! The poem, the photo, the music...all in perfect harmony.

I keep wondering where his mate is? It makes me sad that he might not have one.

Ruth said...

Kanmuri, Yo Yo Ma's cello is a force of nature.

Ruth said...

Patricia, I keep thinking it is an extraordinary thing how something as simple and natural as precipitation gone cold creates a state of mind. Some of us love it, some hate it, but rarely is it neutral. No one presents images of nature better than Mary Oliver.

Ruth said...

Shari, apparently it was discovered at age 2 that Camille Saint-Saëns had perfect pitch. He wrote his first composition for piano when he was 3.

Ruth said...

Bella - same year too? Wow, Sept 10, 1935. Even good writers I know just slowly shake their heads when Oliver's name comes up, as if to say, no one else can do what she does.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, I didn't know before this post that Mary Oliver was influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay, having helped her sister organize her papers after Millay died.

Ruth said...

Jean, Christmas is best calm. I'm so happy to have one that way this year.

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, hello friend. Sometimes inspiration is quiet, which I badly need this year. Enjoy your time off!

Ruth said...

Dear Shattered, as I said to Patricia, it's extraordinary how snow affects people's hearts and minds. I think I need to get outside right now, the way the sun is on the snow - WOW.

Ruth said...

Oh, DS, I googled Yo Yo Ma and found his blog - it's called: The Joy Blog.

How wonderful is that?

Ruth said...

Thank you, sweet Cathy, Happy Christmas and Merry New Year to you.

Ruth said...

Pamela, their skills can't be beaten. And they make it seem effortless, the best kind of talent.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Gwen, I also needed calm inspiration.

Ruth said...

Dear Daniel, you bestow far too much credit on poor moi. I have no hope of reading Swann's Way in French; I haven't even read in English. But I would like to, now that you've posted this here.

Ruth said...

Hi, Kamana, thank you, and welcome to synch-ro-ni-zing.

Ruth said...

Oh sweet Susan, I didn't even think of that, even the day almost two years ago when I saw him. See, you are so very connected with the world.

I'm wishing you peace and harmony this week, my friend.

laura said...

This photo is an artwork! What a stunning shot ... so elegant and peaceful.

dutchbaby said...

A perfect marriage of image, poetry, and music. So beautifully done. Aaah, I just took a giant cleansing breath. Thank you.

Babs-beetle said...

Lovely post - all three are beautiful!
I try to ring the changes with 'that word' but it's hard to leave it out with your posts ;)

VaNeSsA said...

"the bondage of its wings" - as if what it essentially IS can keep it from being what it WANTS to be - oh wait, maybe that's me! I couldn't really absorb much after that line, it struck me so to hte heart. It makes me think of the lists I make, endless lists, mental and physical, that basically boil down to "Stuff I Need to Get Done But Probably Won't" and "Ways I Could Be a Better Person But Probably Can't." The endless self-criticism that seems to envelop us (because I KNOW it isn't just me) is so REDICULOUS, isn't it? I mean, if you're a swan, you're a swan, no matter where you fly off to (or stay), and we are who we are, wherever we go, whatever we do. Other people like (even love) us - why don't we like ourselves?

Ruth said...

Thanks, Laura. I remember having a terrible cold the day I went to Tipton, and it was very cold out that March. But there were so many beauties to see, like him.

Ruth said...

Oh I'm glad, Dutchbaby.

Ruth said...

Oh thank you, Babs. I get so inspired by Mary Oliver and Yo-Yo Ma that I go speechless. Oliver's writing is nearly divine.

Ruth said...

I know, VaNeSsA, imagine being a bird and feeling limited by your wings! My dream is to fly, to be up above looking down, floating.

If you want to read an amazing song lyric about what you wrote here, look in the comments of my post two posts ago: self discipline & success for Loring's comment. The song he posted is brilliant.

Do you not have a blog any more? :(

Ruth said...

Oh, VaNeSsA, I see your blog through Google Reader, but the link in your name didn't take me to your profile page, FYI.

Ginnie said...

She's a beauty to behold, Ruthie, dear. And he's a delight to hear.

California Girl said...

More gorgeous visuals, audio and poetry. Thank you!

Relyn said...

I do love Mary Oliver. So much.

Ruth said...

Yes, Boots, thank you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, California Girl.

Ruth said...

She is a wonder, Relyn.

Anonymous said...

hi, new to the site, thanks.