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  • ELIZABETH EDWARDS

The Significance of the Black Swan



Now that I am doing presentations and speaking to different Senior and Solo Ager groups, the question about why I chose the name Black Swan. There are probably a minimum of five different reasons why I chose this name, because the story of the Black Swan is what is truly unique.

Decimus Junius Juvenalis, or 'Juvenalis', was the most powerful of the Roman satiric poets, with "The Satires" being his most notable work.


In Satire VI, there exists a line - rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno” which translates to “a rare bird in the world, very similar to the black swan.


The full paragraph is:


'"Do you say no worthy wife is to be found among all these crowds? Well, let her be handsome, charming, rich and fertile; let her have ancient ancestors ranged about her halls; let her be more chaste than the disheveled Sabine maidens who stopped the war—a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan!' Yet who could endure a wife that possessed all perfections? I would rather have a Venusian wench for my wife than you, O Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if, with all your virtues, you bring me a haughty brow, and reckon up Triumphs as part of your marriage portion."


At that particular time, black swans were presumed not to exist.


Of course, as with all good stories, there is more to learn, such as "Who discovered the Black Swan?" or "What are the Satires?"


However, since it is #WIsdomWednesday, I will share a different story than the story that will answer the questions above, or even what the other reasons may be why I chose this particular name.


It is the story of "The Bunny With the Broken Ear" by ms. c.e.hesser.


Once upon a time, there were three bunny brothers - Morgan, Kent, and Kevin. These bunny brothers loved each other dearly, and spent their days playing, singing and dancing to the ‘Bunny Hop’ from early in the morning to late in the evening when the first star would shine. Then they would scurry home to their home where their Mama and Daddy would have dinner waiting, and they would share their tales of the days’ events. The bunny brothers loved their life, and thought that their world was perfect, which it was.


One day, the three bunny brothers went out to play, and found their way down to the mossy riverbank, a place where they had never been, because of what their Daddy had always told them. He said, "If you boys ever ended up at the mossy banks of the river, you will be in trouble, because you have gone too far away from home."


In their excitement of finding an unfamiliar place to explore, they forgot all about their Daddy’s warnings, and hopped through the cool moss, from stone to stone, and soon found themselves on the other side of the river.


Morgan was the first to land on the opposing riverbank, and called out to his brothers “Kent! Kevin! Look at me, look at me! I crossed the river! Come on over, you can do it, too!”


Kent and Kevin looked up from the stones they were on, and Kent said, “Kevin, you wait here! I will hop over to the other side of the river and when I get there, Morgan and I will be waiting for you!”


Kent bounced onto the next stone in front of him, and his tail touched the water. “Yipes!” he cried, startled. “That river water is c-o-o-o-l-d-d!” He shook his fluffy tail, regained his balance, and hopped over the rest of the stones to where Morgan was hopping from one foot to the other, back and forth, in anticipation of Kent making the journey over the river.


“C’mon, Kent! There is so much more meadow over there that we have never even explored!” said Morgan. “ I bet there are clover patches everywhere, and maybe we will even find a garden with carrots to nibble on!”


Kent made two more hops, and then he was on the riverbank with Morgan. They jumped up and down with glee, and turned to find Kevin already crossing the river stones. Surprised, they called out to Kevin; “Kevin! You were supposed to wait until we could both watch you cross over!”


Kevin glanced up, and said, “I can do this, just like you two did!” and made his next hop to a stone, but missed the stone and fell into the river! He didn’t know how to swim, as they had never been in a river before, and started crying out “HELP! HELP!"


Morgan and Kent looked at Kevin bobbing up and down, glanced at each other in panic, as they did not know how to swim either. They looked back at Kevin, who was now six feet further down the river than he had been just a minute ago.


Morgan and Kent quickly started racing down the river’s edge, calling out to Kevin, "Hold on, we will help you!" and Kevin kept thrashing around in the water, moving further and further downstream.


Suddenly, a beautiful Black swan appeared out of nowhere, just like in a dream. She flapped her long wings, took a deep breath, and dove under the water toward Kevin, who was headed for a big branch that had fallen and become stuck in the river. The log stretched from one side of the river to the next, and the only way she could get to Kevin was to go under the log, grab him by the tail, and then go back under the log again, the way that she came.


She knew she had to act quickly, because she could see that Kevin was getting weak from the struggle, so she took a deep breath, dove under the log, found Kevin, and whispered to him, “Kevin, I’m here, it’s all right, just hold your breath tight.”


Kevin instantly felt safe, and did as he was told, drinking in a big breath of air and holding his nose. The swan grabbed him by his fluffy tail, dove back under the log, and as she was coming up to the surface of the water, she felt Kevin was stuck.


She immediately turned her head to see what was wrong, and his ear was caught in the crotch of the branch. She could not wiggle him loose, so she said a prayer, “Lord, help me to pull Kevin out of this river as quickly as possible, and let the pain he may feel briefly be worth the rest of his life.”


She tugged one last time, and Kevin’s ear ripped from his head. He screamed in pain, with a sound so loud that Morgan and Kent had to cover their ears and thought the world was coming to an end. Soon the sound stopped, and they looked up to see the swan with Kevin’s fluffy tail in her beak, flying high in the sky, with a trail of blood coming from his head.


The swan then made a turn in the sky, and came toward Morgan and Kent with lightning-quick speed. They backed up to make room for her to land, and she came down with Kevin tucked safely under one wing. The swan landed, and opened her wing carefully to lay Kevin down onto the riverbank.


He was still and lifeless, and his head was covered in blood where his ear had been. She bent down and kissed his head, then sang him a lullaby, “Kevin, Kevin, you are home, never again shall you boys roam.” Morgan and Kent were weeping, and their hearts were broken, as they could not save their little brother.


The swan went to them, put her wings around them both, and sang a lullaby, “Morgan and Kent, please do not fear. Always remember, the Black swan is near.”


Suddenly, the boys heard Kevin groaning and coming to, and they were overjoyed to realize that Kevin was alive! They ran to their brother with one ear, gathered him up, and hugged him tightly.


The first star was shining high in the night sky, and soon there were several others all around. The boys had no idea where they were or how to get back home.


The swan gathered the boys up into her wings, placed them on her back, and sang them a lullaby, “Little boys, little boys, please don’t make so much noise. Just close your tired eyes and rest in the starlight of the skies.” The bunny brothers became quiet, warmed by the stars in the night skies, and soon fell fast asleep.

The swan carried them home, flew into the window into their bedroom, and tucked them back into their beds, kissing each one on the forehead and singing a lullaby, “The Black swan always knows where the little boys go. She will always appear, whenever you need her. Just call out her name, la Cygne noir, la Cygne noir”


The next day, the sun arose and filled up the boys’ room with bright golden rays, and the boys woke up. They yawned, and stretched, and wiggled out of bed, ready to take on the day. Morgan looked at Kent, and then at Kevin.

He said, "Wow, I had the strangest dream last night. It was about exposing further than we had ever ventured before, crossing a river, and…”


Kent interrupted him and said, “I had the same dream! We hopped over stones to cross the river, and you and I had made it to the other side! We looked back at Kevin, and…”


Kevin said, “I fell into the water! I could not swim, and I was bobbing up and down, up and down, up and down. Then everything went dark and I don’t remember anything after that!”


Morgan and Kent looked at each other and said, “The Black swan came and saved you! She appeared out of the sky, dove down into the water and under a log to get to you, then grabbed you by your tail to bring you back under the log to safety. Your ear got stuck, and she had to pull you out of the river and leave your ear so that you could live!”

Kevin grew wide eyed, grabbed his head and felt for his ears. There was one on the right! He slowly felt the other side. There was one on the left! The three bunny brothers just looked at each other, dumbfounded.


Had it only been a dream? Had they all shared the same dream? They shook their heads and scrambled out to breakfast, where their Mama and Daddy were waiting with hot carrots on the table.


Mama Bunny said, “So, what are you boys up to today?” The boys just looked at her, then looked at each other, saying nothing. Daddy Bunny said, “Boys? Your Mama asked you a question! Answer her!”


The boys looked at each other again, not knowing what to say or to think. Kevin suddenly piped up, “We’re going to go outside to sing, play, and dance the Bunny Hop, just like we do every day!”


Kent said, “Yes, and we are going to play very close to home, so that you can find us easily!”


Morgan chimed in, “We will be so close you won’t even have to call us for dinner!”

Mama and Daddy Bunny looked at each other, a bit bewildered, and then just smiled.


Mama said, “Ok, well make sure you have brushed your teeth, fluffed your tails, and cleaned your rooms first!”


Daddy said, “You boys heard your Mama! Hop to it!”


The boys quickly went to do what their Mama had asked them to, scurrying into their bedroom. Their beds were all made! On each bed, there was a Black swan feather laid upon the pillow.


The boys looked at each other again, then grabbed each other with the biggest bunny hug ever!


Then they brushed their teeth, fluffed their tails, and went out into the world to play.

- ms. c.e. hesser@blackswanmusings




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