Note: In fact, this is the swansong of Bird of the Month, which has reached its first birthday and is going into retirement (birds age faster than humans.) Thank you to all Toast readers for sharing your bird knowledge, enthusiasm and stories in the comments. I’ve loved reading them. For your perusal, previous Birds of the Month can be found here.
W.B. Yeats first visited Coole Park, the Irish estate owned by his friend Lady Gregory, in 1897. He stayed there regularly over the next couple of decades and in 1916 wrote “The Wild Swans at Coole,” a poem in which the speaker, wandering by a lake in the October twilight, sees that
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
When he first counted the swans, 19 years ago, he “trod with a lighter tread.” Now, his “heart is sore.” This could be for a number of reasons (World War One, the difficult political situation in Ireland, the recent death of Lady Gregory’s son) but, Yeats being Yeats, it’s a good bet that romantic disappointment is high on the list.
If you are feeling bad about the state of your love life, swans are not the ideal bird to look at....Read More