The Swan

White Oak Cemetery, Bloomington, Indiana

The swan is familiar to us all from Hans Christian Anderson’s story.  In the tale the poor duckling, mocked and ridiculed for being so ugly, magically transforms into an elegant and graceful adult swan–thereby becoming a symbol of transformation.  The swan in funerary art could possibly represent the metamorphosis from one form into the next.  Because the swan often pair for life, the swan is also a symbol of love.

In the monument above, the epitaph reads:

COME TO THE EDGE, HE SAID.

THEY SAID, WE ARE AFRAID.

COME TO THE EDGE, HE SAID.

THEY CAME.

HE PUSHED THEM…AND THEY FLEW.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Symbolism. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Swan

  1. Mary Kim schreck says:

    Are there many swans like this one on gravestones?

    • This is the only swan I have seen. Also, I can’t find anything in the literature about swan symbolism in funerary art. This sculpture seems to be unique. If I find another one, though, I will most certainly write about it.

  2. Loren Rhoads says:

    Wow. That is an amazing epitaph!

  3. The curled swan with its head nested into its feathers coupled with the epitaph creates an image of the relunctant swan taking flight after it is pushed. An amazing combination of the visual supporting the word on this monument.

  4. Kari says:

    The epitaph comes from Christopher Logue’s poem, _Come to the Edge_. Supposedly, the poem was originally titled _Apollinaire Said_, and appeared on a poster advertising an exhibition of the works of Guillaume Apollinaire, a Russian subject who later emigrated to France. Apollinaire was accused (and later acquitted) of helping a fellow Russian steal the Mona Lisa and several Egyptian statues from the Louvre. He was a friend of Picasso and is credited with coining the term “surrealism.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s