W B Yeats admires a group of swans whose beauty and patterns of living seem changeless over the years, in contrast to the life of their human observer.

THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE

The trees are in their autumn beauty,

Loading article content

The woodland paths are dry,

Under the October twilight the water

Mirrors a still sky;

Upon the brimming water among the stones

Are nine-and-fifty swans.

~

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me

Since I first made my count;

I  saw, before I had well finished,

All suddenly mount

And scatter wheeling in great broken rings

Upon their clamorous wings.

~

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,

And now my heart is sore,

All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,

The first time on this shore,

The bell-beat of their wings above my head,

Trod with a lighter tread.

~

Unwearied still, lover by lover,

They paddle in the cold

Companionable streams or climb the air;

Their hearts have not grown old;

Passion or conquest, wander where they will,

Attend upon them still.

~

But now they drift on the still water,

Mysterious, beautiful;

Among what rushes will they build,

By what lake’s edge or pool

Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day

To find they have flown away?