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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Storm Swallow. By John von Daler

                      I had composed a melody to accompany the poem that the great Danish poet, #Drachmann, had written about the brave little bird called the Storm #Petrel. Its name in Danish, the Storm Swallow, alliterates beautifully and the poet had written rhythmic romantic verses about the little creature that hardly ever is seen on land and seldom in calm weather.
When going gets rough, it appears suddenly in the turbulent air alongside Danish and Faroese fishing boats. A great Danish troubadour had decided to sing the song and we had gone to the #Faroe Islands to give concerts and to play it along with his other more well-known melodies.
                We had decided to investigate in our free time the truth of a certain line in the poem, "The Storm Swallow lives, I know not where..." The Faroese, we had heard, not only knew where the bird nests, but could take us there. A friendly man with a fine schooner had promised to sail us to a small island off #Thorshavn where we could see it. This man could not only sail, but he made wonderful dishes out of deep-sea crabs that he had caught himself in a metal diving suit. He also served a very good wine with this dish. Soon we were in high spirits on the high seas.
                The night was black, the wind was lusty, and the waves were huge. I was in a good mood and went out on deck to fiddle a ditty while the others who came along clapped and shouted. After a few minutes they went down the hatch to eat a second dish and I stayed a while to wail into the night on my violin.
                This is the point where my story takes a turn for the worse, not in the sense that anything bad happened to me or to the ship; in fact that would only have made the tale taller. No, the story gets worse because the gods-that-be closed it very abruptly. Apparently I am equipped with an unusual intuition, because I finished my ditty, turned around and walked to the hatch, climbing gingerly down the ladder to the dining room. Just as the square wooden door fell into place above my head, I heard the crash of a tremendous wave that in a better story would have caught both me and my violin and given us a ride for our money. Imagine that the last sight of my life, as I slid beneath wind and wave, had been an impudent little petrel gliding through the air along side my desperately outstretched violin arm!
                No such luck. Alas, in the dry safety of the diningroom we sailed the rest of the trip to the island and disembarked to find this mysterious bird. But as it turned out - and this indeed makes my story the more boring - it could be seen nowhere and we ended up in the home of a man who artfully stuffed the small creatures in stiff positions with their heads cocked, their eyes bright, and their wings spread for a storm.

                So I never saw the nest of the Storm Swallow. You, my reader, would have been better served with the tragic ending, but then again, don't you see, I would not have been alive to tell the tale. Even readers, as well as writers, must compromise for the sake of art.    

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