​the flight of the wild swan (poem and commentary)

the flight of the wild swan

between earth and air
between life and fire
between transcendence and the fragile body
between the wild swan and the burnt man
between divine ecstasy and nuclear fall out

the royal swan of the soul floats on the cosmic ocean
despite the cosmic ocean being filled with blood

Flight of the Gander, By Ervin Janek

* * * * * * *

Here is a little more about this poem. Following is a journal entry written as I was leading up to the poem, with the intention of responding to the image above by Ervin Janek

* * * * * * *

‘There is a figure that Dirk made when he was in year twelve. It’s the bust of a person whose flesh is melting from a nuclear bomb. I’m thinking about that sculpture because Ervin used it in a photo that I’m wanting to write about. The photo is called Flight of The Gander, named after one of Joseph Campbell’s books, Flight of The Wild Gander. In the photo a monk sits in contemplation or meditation next to Dirk’s melting head, and a gander is flying overhead.

‘The Wild Gander is a symbol of paramahansa, literally ‘supreme swan’, it symbolizes spiritual discrimination.The swan is equally at home on land and on water; similarly, the true sage is equally at home in the realms of matter and of spirit. To be in divine ecstasy and simultaneously to be actively wakeful is the paramahansa state; the ‘royal swan’ of the soul floats in the cosmic ocean.’[1]

‘But how, when beside you is a face melted by the heat of a nuclear explosion? How could the monk not be torn? Granted, we learn to live with the atrocities we see on the media everyday. We have to. But how can one possibly be in divine ecstasy?

‘Perhaps, however, there is such a thing as transcendence. It would certainly beat depression. And in the end, what is the difference between one form of suffering and another? And what is it, when we are suddenly lifted by a sunset or a small bird, a child or a magnificent tree. What happens to our awareness of suffering?’

between earth and God —
the old man

You can see this image and others by Ervin Janek here.


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