Sunday, December 11, 2011
Mythical winter swan on the lake
As an anti-dote to the economic wars endlessly rehearsed on the airwaves I took to the water last night and just observed the peaceful world of this swan. Whenever I see a swan it brings me back to the story of the Children of Lir which we all learned in school as small children.
Lir and his wife Aobh had four children called, Aodh, Fionghuala, Fiachra and Conn. When Lir's wife died in childbirth he remarried but his new wife Aoife was jealous of the children and their loving relationship with their father. One day in a jealous rage she put the children under a spell and they were turned into four white swans. They remained in that form for 400 years, living lives of horrendous hardship and loneliness wandering the world. I can almost feel the cold that they experienced living on icy waters through endless winters whenever I think of them.
In the end the spell was finally broken and they were returned to human form as withered old people. They were eventually baptised, died peacefully and were buried together.
This legend is very much part of our Irish national psyche as is being able to absorb all sorts of stories and myths in our youth. So many beautiful Irish works of art have drawn on the powerful image of the four children as swans, or the amazing transformation from child to bird or from swan to human again.
I still relish tales of the bitter sweet sort, of trapped beauty, of ice cold worlds, and above all of human survival and love........