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There's a double beauty whenever a swan
Swims on a lake with her double thereon. ~ Thomas Hood

Swans are birds of the family Anatidae within the genus Cygnus. The swans' close relatives include geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae. Swans are also known as "Jenbirds". Swans usually w:mate for life, though "divorce" does sometimes occur, particularly following nesting failure, and if a mate dies, the remaining swan will take up with another.


  • A swan always gives the idea of a court-lady, — stately in her grace, ruffling in her bravery, and conscious of the floating plumes that mark her pretensions. The peacock is a coquette ; it turns in the sunshine, it looks round as if to ask the conscious air of its purple and gold ; but the swan sails on in majestic tranquillity, it sees the fair image of its perfect grace on the waters below, and is content.
The swan, like the soul of the poet,
By the dull world is ill understood. ~ Heinrich Heine

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 772-73.
The swan on still St. Mary's lake
Float double, swan and shadow! ~ William Wordsworth
  • All our geese are swans.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section II. Memb. 3. Subsect. 14.
  • Place me on Sunium's marbled steep,
    Where nothing save the waves and I
    May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
    There, swan-like, let me sing and die.
  • The jelous swan, agens hire deth that syngith.
  • Cignoni non sine causa Apoloni dicati sint, quod ab eo divinationem habere videantur, qua providentes quid in morte boni sit, cum cantu et voluptate moriantur.
    • The swan is not without cause dedicated to Apollo because, foreseeing his happiness in death, he dies with singing and pleasure.
    • Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, I. 30.
  • Death darkens his eyes, and unplumes his wings,
    Yet the sweetest song is the last he sings:
    Live so, my Love, that when death shall come,
    Swan-like and sweet it may waft thee home.
  • The immortal swan that did her life deplore.
  • The dying swan, when years her temples pierce,
    In music-strains breathes out her life and verse,
    And, chanting her own dirge, tides on her wat'ry hearse.
  • The swan in the pool is singing,
    And up and down doth he steer,
    And, singing gently ever,
    Dips under the water clear.
  • And over the pond are sailing
    Two swans all white as snow;
    Sweet voices mysteriously wailing
    Pierce through me as onward they go.
    They sail along, and a ringing
    Sweet melody rises on high;
    And when the swans begin singing,
    They presently must die.
  • The swan, like the soul of the poet,
    By the dull world is ill understood.
  • There's a double beauty whenever a swan
    Swims on a lake with her double thereon.
  • The swan murmurs sweet strains with a faltering tongue, itself the singer of its own dirge.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book XIII, Epistle LXXVII.
  • The swan, with arched neck
    Between her white wings mantling proudly, rows
    Her state with oary feet.
  • Thus does the white swan, as he lies on the wet grass, when the
    Fates summon him, sing at the fords of Mæander.
    • Ovid, Epigram VII. Riley's translation.
  • As I have seen a swan
    With bootless labour swim against the tide
    And spend her strength with over-matching waves.
  • I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
    Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death;
    And, from the organ-pipe of frailty, sings
    His soul and body to their lasting rest.
  • For all the water in the ocean,
    Can never turn the swan's black legs to white,
    Although she lave them hourly in the flood.
  • You think that upon the score of fore-knowledge and divining I am infinitely inferior to the swans. When they perceive approaching death they sing more merrily than before, because of the joy they have in going to the God they serve.
  • The wild swan's death-hymn took the soul
    Of that waste place with joy
    Hidden in sorrow: at first to the ear
    The warble was low, and full and clear.
  • Some full-breasted swan
    That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
    Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
    With swarthy webs.
  • The stately-sailing swan
    Gives out his snowy plumage to the gale;
    And, arching proud his neck, with oary feet
    Bears forward fierce, and guards his osier isle,
    Protective of his young.
  • The swan on still St. Mary's lake
    Float double, swan and shadow!
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