CW6 – The Ballad of The Dying Swan

A young princess danced beside a lake

Many years ago

Her graceful form was mirrored

In the water’s gentle flow

But as she danced unaware

A shadow crossed the lake

A sorcerer masque as an owl

Her gentle shape to cruelly take

A swan by day, a maid by night

He cursed her and her maids

Her human form is now only seen

By the light of the moon, or as the twilight fades

* * *

Opulent visitors from far and wide

Came to celebrate the day

The prince had come of age

To take the throne today

Laughter of company and clinking of goblets

Echoed through the air

Dancers frolicked through the courtyard

With grace beyond compare

Prince Siegfried greeted every guest

Honored that they had come

And thanked them for the praise they gave

Of the king he would become

Trumpets called the Queen’s entry

A hush washed over the crowd

She entered with her vast attendance

Siegfried knelt and bowed.

“You seem at easer among your friends

But let me tell you this:

Now that you make take the throne

I wish to cause you bliss!

“Tomorrow at your birthday ball

Of ladies far and wide

I wish and command that you choose

From among them a lovely bride.”

Glances passed among the girls

Who had come to celebrate.

Some stepped forward boldly,

Others blushed in debate.

Waving her hand

The queen turned away.

“But there is no one I love!”

Siegfried cried out in dismay.

She wavered and said,

“Would your kingship you lose

On the fancy of love?

No, my son, you must choose!”

Dismay clouded his countenance

As whispers passed through the girls

Descriptions of dresses and the color of shoes

To make up, and how to fix curls

Eager to cheer him, his friends gathered round

But his closest friend drew him aside

“Perhaps your majesty would favor a hunt

And not worry over choosing a bride?”

Absently taking his leave

Siegfried gathered his hunting gear

Hoping that hunting for swans

Would help his snarled mind clear

He fought to untangle the mire of his thoughts

As he followed the swans’ flight

So distracted that he paid no heed

To the dying of the light

Till before him was a mirror of silver

A lake bathed in the light of the moon

The swans were descending upon its glass

A gentle spray by their feet was strewn.

He stood transfixed

In wonder at the sight

“If only I could find a bride

As lovely as this night!”

What mystery is this?

A white swan with a crown?

He gazed after their leader

As she arched her head down

Her silver tiara shimmered

Upon her graceful form

She gently stepped ashore

And she began to transform

A maiden garbed in white feathers

Stood before him on the shore

Her tears glinting in the moonlight

And glancing off the feathers she wore

Rushing forth to comfort

Siegfried forgot his place

She started back with terror

Shock covering her exquisite face

“I meant no harm,”

He cried at once ashamed

“I only meant to comfort,

My rashness alone is to blame.”

“No, I was merely startled,

I thought you were my foe.”

She hung her head,

“Twas he who cursed me so.”

Her tears again dripped down,

Which she attemped to hide

Against his better will

He found himself at her side

“Maiden, you are brave,

To live as cursed as this.

Is there a way for me

To this enchantment dismiss?”

“Von Rothbart, the sorcerer

Cast this evil spell

That true loves pledge

Would free me from this hell.

“But if he is unfaithful

The spell will never break

And Von Rothbart has promised

That very day my life to take.”

So touched with grief, he embraced her

And confiding his own plight,

He begged for her to come

To be his choice the following night.

So enraptured in each other’s love

They talked the night away

And noticed not the growing light

Or the coming of the day

Till her form was suddenly altered

And as a swan she soon returned

Now eager for the night to come

Siegfried towards his castle turned.

Paying no heed to the party

Siegfried hardly noticed the guests

He hardly noticed the pretty girls

Or his mother’s frequent requests

Only when thunder crashed through the hall

Did he awaken from his dreaming

As a Count appeared with his daughter

In a gown of black feathers gleaming.

So caught up in rapture

He disregarded the feathers of inky hue

Taken in by Von Rothbarts plot

His daughter could effortlessly woo

Odile, Rothbart’s daughter

Had taken on a disguise

Distracting the prince with her beauty

From a nearby swan’s pleading cries

She whirled him over the ballroom floor

In a rapturous, vivacious dance

Pressing him to declare his love

While she held him beneath her trance

Pulling him close just before the sunset

She whispered her love in his ear

So full of romance he shouted aloud

His love so that all might hear

A piercing cry rent the hall

As it tore from the lips of Oddette

Alarmed Siegfried looked up

To see his love’s silhouette

Oh that she had the wings of a swan

So that she could fly away

But even wings would not help her escape

The death that would follow that day

His heart capsized within his chest

Guilt overwhelming him with regret

But this treacherous trick would not stop him

From rescuing his beloved Oddette

The thundering laughter of Rothbart

Resonated through the room

He rejoiced in the unhappy fate

Of Oddette’s coming doom

Unheeding of this evil

Siegfried dashed away

His companion giving him a sword

Should the rescue cause a fray

Dumb-founded that the prince would fight

Van Rothbart took to owl form

And beating his heavy wings

Called for with magic a storm

Oddette ran into the night

Drowning in the flood of her tears

Her dread was finally realized

After waiting all of these years

Siegfried found her

Crumpled on the lake’s shore.

He implored for her forgiveness

“I will defend you!” he swore.

Drawing his noble blade

He faced the on coming tempest

With only love to fight magic

Fear pounded up in his chest

Rothbart flew down at him

In a furry of vehement rage

But Seigfried passionate love

Gave him all the strength to assuage

Raising his blade, he struck the owl

Casting him into the lake

Using the storm against him

Rothbart’s magic became his mistake

The waters swarmed around him

And his fowl form consumed

To this day he lies

In those dark waters entombed

Freed from her curse

Oddette embraced the dawn

Never again would she meet the day

In the cursed form of a swan

Carrying her back to the castle

Seigfried proclaimed the choice of his bride

And for the rest of their happy lives

They ruled side by side

 

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