The Swan Maiden’s Tale

I have not been inspired much lately but  here is a  swan snippet that popped into my beleaguered brain. The images were taken at Hatley Castle’s lagoon in late summer, and after playing  with textures and Photoshop edits, a fragment of story emerged.This might be a continuation of one of the chapters of  Tales of the Tuatha  where Niamh met the motherless children waiting by the water.

It is of course inspired by much older fairy tales of shape shifting, dark spells and swan maidens, and those long shadows of the golden and late summer afternoons and twilight.


Sometimes in the late evening she would rise from the water in secret and look through the window at the children tucked away safely in their beds. If they were stirring fitfully in their sleep she came inside to stroke their hair and softly sing a song …

tra li, tra la, soft shadows beckon,

in the deepest, secret hollow,

by the moon whose tears are lanterns,

voices calling,

silence falling,  

head under wing, they rise and follow...”

swan lake3a4


Her presence lingered within that haunted threshold between sleep and waking,  and often the two children would talk quietly among themselves about her visit. If father heard them he became angry. He frowned and said that it was only a dream. Mother was dead. She had left them on a quiet summer’s night while they all slept. The oldest child later said he saw her from the bedroom window walking toward the lagoon in the moonlight.  Her shift was later discovered lying in the gazebo on the bank, but she was never found.  Time had passed and still father could not bring himself to speak of her.

Yet there were times at night when he too felt a gentle touch on his forehead. It whispered through the curtains of his window like the breath of a feathered wing.  It was then he would dream of those days when she lay in his arms in the summer grass as the tumultuous shadows of swans in flight swept over their radiant bodies.


(Inspiration thanks to Cougar Sangria and her lovely virtual landscapes)


The Bonny Swans


Special thanks to Lost Horizons by Cougar Sangria