During today's run I thought about swans. Partly this was the result of the coincidence of two unrelated pieces of reading. The first was Warriorwoman describing being attacked by a swan in her blog, whilst this morning I read 'Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen' by W.B.Yeats, whose third part revolves around the imagery of a swan.
Some moralist or mythological poet
Compares the solitary soul to a swan;
I am satisfied with that,
Satisfied if a troubled mirror show it,
Before that brief gleam of its life be gone,
An image of its state;
The wings half spread for flight,
The breast thrust out in pride
Whether to play, or to ride
Those winds that clamour of approaching night.
I wasn't much concerned with the meaning of the poem, instead I pictured myself running, with my arms half spread for flight and my breast thrust out. Not a lot of pride though; I am not a prideful runner.
From this my thoughts moved to the general imagery of swans and how it was formed by their grace on the water and in flight, and the uniform white of their coat and ignores their rather grumpy, ill-tempered nature. But these thoughts did not last very long , as with all thoughts when running, they wandered off in a series of hazy relationships as if I was playing a game of Chinese whispers with myself. The next strand was about how often I see swans when I am running – not that frequently.. I then started to think of all the birds and ducks I see by or on the canal. My favourite is the heron but they are seen at their best in the early morning when the mist is still rising from the water. I make a note to try to get up earlier to see them more often. Then I start to think about sleep patterns.
So that is how it goes: I run by the water and my mind floats and bobs.
Anyway, as if on cue, some swans appeared and needed to be photographed. I reached into to my belt to get my camera and the swans obviously thought I was going to feed them as they swam towards me and waited expectantly. When they realised there was no food they both disdainfully turned their heads away - as the stanza says, they have their pride.