Sunday, 10 May 2009

The first swallows of summer

(Illustration by Frank Papes from At The Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald)
Earlier today I decided to apply some stain to my very-small-wooden-shed in an attempt to undo the damage done by Sam the cat who uses it as a scratching post. Not to mention neighboring cats who use its roof as a sun lounge. A peaceful pottering activity, listening to the radio; then I heard that wonderful sunshine sound of swallows over the old cemetery. They were back, these astonishing birds return each year to the same Old Town area of my town. Later in the day, I saw them swoop over a Victorian terraced street, the same one they always seem to return to. (Its possible my swallows are swifts because I find it hard to tell the difference when they are in flight).
Summer is finally here.
Swallows travel to and fro,
And the great winds come and go,
And the steady breezes blow,
Bearing perfume, bearing love.
Breezes hasten, swallows fly,
Towered clouds forever ply,
And at noonday, you and I
See the same sunshine above.
Dew and rain fall everywhere,
Harvests ripen, flowers are fair,
And the whole round earth is bare
To the moonshine and the sun;
And the live air, fanned with wings,
Bright with breeze and sunshine, brings
Into contact distant things .....
incomplete poem by Robert Lois Stevenson
I found the extract below at:
In Ancient Egytian mythology Swallow means menet (soul).
"Meaning: During the Old Kingdom, swallows were associated with stars and therefore the souls of the dead. ... The imperishable stars were those near the North Star that never seemed to rise or set, and therefore were "constant".
The swallow also appears in paintings of the solar barque as it enters the underworld. The swallow is usually shown on the prow of the boat. In this context, the bird appears to be an announcer of the sun's approach."
Click on internet link for the complete text
The swallow heralds the coming of spring and happiness, poets praise it, and it appears on the flowering peach branch in classical Chinese painting. In Egyptian love poetry, the swallow sings of the first signs of a new love. For some, it’s a symbol of fertility and renewal, a harbinger of good and a symbol of transformation. For the pilgrim to Mecca, the swallow is the symbol of constancy and faith, and is said to fly to that holy city each year. Swallows mate for life, and therefore represents fidelity and loyalty.
The swallow must be one of the most joyful of all birds.