The Swans, by Clifford Dyment
Midstream they met. Challenger and champion,
They fought a war for honor
Fierce, sharp, but with no honor;
Each had a simple aim and sought it quickly.
The combat over the victor sailed away
Broken, but placid as the gift of swans,
Leaving his rival to his shame alone.
I listened for a song, according to story,
But this swan's death was out of character
No giving up of the grace of life
In a sad lingering music
I saw the beaten swan rise on the water
As though to outreach pain, its webbed feet
Banging the river helplessly, its wings
Loose in a large hysteria. Then the neck
Was floating like a rope and the swan was dead
It drifted away and all around it swan's-down
Bobbed on the river like children's little boats.
This is the story of two Swans who met to battle in the middle of a river.
They both had the same aim, which was to destroy the other, and wanted "to sought it quickly". After the fight, one came out victorious, leaving its enemy lifeless on the way. The persona seems to be someone who was around the place; a witness, or maybe the author, who (as many poets) has "an eye for detail" and could see the scene so clearly.
These swans, were the challenger and the champion (the best of the kind), but during the combat one of them was quicker and effective in his attack. When it was over, he "sailed away broken, but placid"; meaning that although he had won and was injured, he had no mercy or compassion and knew he could relax and show all his elegance. He had acquired honour but the way in which he then left, had no honour...