Have you ever heard that an adult swan can break a person’s arm?
Disappointingly enough, that’s a myth.
But in the past few days, I’ve learned that swan-maidens are absolutely capable of breaking a mind. There are just so many variants, so many connections between stories, so many different directions to take.
But I used some restraint and included just a few of the variants I found, some main themes, and a good number of illustrations — a more pleasant version of my own journey in pursuit of the swan maidens.
While searching for art and images related to selkies, I came upon a series of 10 beautiful postage stamps from the Faroe Islands that deserve their own post. They were inspired by the story of Kópakonan, or the Seal Woman, and designed by Edward Fuglø.
Selkies are one of my favorite mythical/supernatural creatures, no doubt related to the melancholy nature of the legends told about them. Look, if it’s not absurdly bloody, heart-crushingly sad, or at least suitably bittersweet, it’s no good. And the various selkie legends have got those criteria covered.
Since it’s National Poetry Month and also crunch time in my classes, I thought I’d get in a quick post with a poem of my own. I actually wrote this seven years ago (!!!!), though I’ve tweaked it a little. It’s based off a bit of lore I came across online, that one way to summon a selkie (specifically, a male one) is to shed seven tears into the sea.
Fittingly enough, I composed it in the shower.
The Selkie’s Complaint
Down on the strand where no one would follow
I knelt in the sand, wetting my knees,
and into the water I dropped seven sorrows;
with the last, a man arose from the sea.
Clad to the waist in tumbling wavelets,
he held me in place with well-oiled eyes.
A hint of annoyance lit his dark gaze,
as might be reserved for a bothersome fly.
His mouth when it opened let out a voice
raspy and thick, unused to speech,
but the words themselves held clear enough meaning:
“This soup is already too salty for me.”
I’ll get more in-depth about selkies — what they are, the tales told about them, and so on — in my next post.