Couples: Mute Love

This was taken in response to the Travel Photo Challenge: Couples

This pair of swans looked so in love that I couldn’t resist snapping them. At one point their two necks formed a love heart, but it was past in an instant and this is the shot I got. The sharp-eyed among you will notice that in fact I have posted a couple of shots, of the same picture…..I just couldn’t decide which exposures I liked best. I think the first one is more moody, but the second one feels more love infused! Do you have a preference?

Apparently the root of the word swan, means to sing, which makes the name ‘mute swan’ even more confusing for me. There is an old legend however that these swans sing just before they die…hence swan song…..very cheery. On a more romantic note, they mostly mate for life, so this might be a long-established middle-aged couple taking some quality love time together.

What I didn’t know, until a hasty google search, was that swans are one of the oldest living birds on the planet. Fossils of swans very similar to modern Mute Swans have been found all over Europe, which may explain their link with longevity in many European myths. In ‘The Wooing of Etain’ the fairy king transforms himself, and Ireland’s most beautiful woman, into swans, so they can escape from the King of Ireland, and in the Norse Prose Edda we find Swan Maidens. The Celtic myth, the Children of Lir also features children enchanted into swans by their wicked stepmother. Lots of enchantments of love and hate swirl around the swans.

I find them spell binding, and can watch the ‘bevy’, which live on St Margaret’s Loch in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, for hours. My Granny used to take me to feed them as a little girl, so I find myself not only transported into the world of fairytale and myth, but back into my own childhood. It’s a potent combination and for me there is definitely something otherworldly and timeless about these majestic birds.

They appeared
over the dunes,
they skimmed the trees
and hurried on
to the sea
or some lonely pond
or wherever it is
that swans go,
urgent, immaculate,
the heat of their eyes
staring down
and then away,
the thick spans
of their wings
as bright as snow,
their shoulder-power
inside my own body.
How could I help but adore them?
How could I help but wish
that one of them might drop
a white feather
that I should have
something in my hand
to tell me
that they were real?
Of course
this was foolish.
What we love, shapely and pure,
is not to be held,
but to be believed in.
And then they vanished, into the unreachable distance.
~ Mary Oliver ~

About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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11 Responses to Couples: Mute Love

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  4. sarahinguangzhou says:

    Beautiful swan pics. And interesting facts too.

    • Thanks so much. Glad you stopped by and enjoyed your visit. There is something intruiging about swans, so I wanted to know a little more myself, and I love a bit of legend and mythology 🙂

  5. Gracie says:

    Wonderful captures!

  6. Imelda says:

    Oh, you managed to get up close and personal with them. I love the interaction between these two swans, mine just ate and swam together. Both of your photos are lovely, but I think I prefer the second one best because of the light. I think if you try it on monochrome, you will get wonderful light and shadows there. 🙂 Happy Monday.

    • Great idea…monochrome isn’t something I have tried out much so will give it a go. And yes the warmth of the light is nice on the second take. Thanks for visiting and sharing 🙂

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