The Swan Maiden

Activated Stories by

Activated Stories artwork

Thu Dec 14, 2006 • 14 min

Lake Chabot High above the East Bay town of Castro Valley, California - just a few miles across the bay from San Francisco - is Lake Chabot Campground, part of the California State Parks. It's one of the few campgrounds available in the S.F. Bay Area, and just about the only reasonably priced one. So we've stayed there often during the years, and have many colorful memories of the place, some of which we'll share on this week's podcast. Dennis and Kimberly are spending a few days at this campground (while Zephyr is in North Carolina recording with his band A Simple Disaster) to focus on getting the new productions together. The Swan Maiden Since we are encamped overlooking a lake, we thought it would be appropriate to bring you the Swedish folktale of The Swan Maiden, about a hunter who sees three beautiful swans alight at a lake, and then before his eyes they remove their feathery cloaks and become beautiful young maidens who swim in the lake. Later, they put their feathers back on and fly away. He falls in love with the youngest of the swan maidens and can't get her out of his mind. So on the advice of his mother, he goes back to the lake and awaits their return, whereupon he steals the youngest swan's feathers, so she cannot turn back into a swan. She agrees to marry him (what other answer could you possibly give to a guy who steals your feathers?) and for a time it seems they are living happily ever after. But ultimately, the hunter pays a heavy price for "clipping the wings" of a free creature. This story has parallels to many other tales, including Swan Lake (the basis for the Tchaikovsky ballet) and Lohengrin (the inspiration for the Wagner opera - what is it with composers and swans, anyway?) as well as several other variants-some involving other types of fowl-from China, Japan and India. There's even a similar story in The Arabian Nights. Happy Listening, Dennis "the Hunter" and Kimberly "the Swan Maiden" Goza