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THE SWAN's NEST

 

BETWEEN the Baltic and the North Sea there lies an old swan'ss nestand it is called Denmarkwherein swans are born and have been born whose names shall never die

In olden times a flock of swans flew over the Alps to the green plains around Milanwhere it was delightful to dwellthis flight of swans men called the Lombards

Another flockwith shining plumage and honest eyessoared southward to Byzantiumthe swans established themselves there close by the Emperor's throneand spread their great white wings over him as shields to protect himThey received the name of Varangians

On the coast of France there sounded a cry of fearfor the bloodstained swans that came from the North with fire under their wingsand the people prayed,“Heaven deliver us from the wild Northmen.”

On the fresh sward of England stood the Danish swan by the open seashorewith the crown of three kingdoms on his headand he stretched out his golden sceptre over the landThe heathens on the Pomeranian coast bent the kneeand the Danish swans came with the banner of the Cross and with the drawn sword

That was in the very old times,” you say

In later days two mighty swans have been seen to fly from the nestA light shone far through the airfar over the lands of the earththe swanwith the strong beating of his wingsscattered the twilight mistsand the starry sky was more clearly seenand it was as if it come nearer to the earthThat was the swan Tycho Brahé.

Yesat that time,”you say;“but in our own days?”

We have seen swan after swan soar by in glorious flightOne let his pinions glide over the strings of the golden harpand it resounded through the NorthNorway's mountains seemed to rise higher in the sunlight of former daysthere was a rustling among the pine trees and the birchesthe gods of the Norththe heroesand the noble women showed themselves in the dark forest depths

We have seen a swan beat with his wings upon the marble cragso that it burstand the forms of beauty imprisoned in the stone stepped out to the sunny dayand men in the lands round about lifted up their heads to behold these mighty forms

We have seen a third swan spinning the thread of thought that is fastened from country to country round the worldso that the word may fly with lightning speed from land to land

And our Lord loves the old swan's nest between the Baltic and the Northern SeaAnd when the mighty birds come soaring through the air to destroy iteven the callow young stand round in a circle on the margin of the nestand though their breasts may be struck so that their blood flowsthey bear itand strike with their wings and their claws

Centuries will pass byswans will fly forth from the nestmen will see them and hear them in the worldbefore it shall be said in spirit and in truth,“This is the last swan——the last song from the swan's nest.”

 


 

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