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Posted by Bob on June 14, 2003

In Reply to: Swansong posted by woody on June 14, 2003

: how did this evolve into meaning someone's downfall or final act?
The ancient legend is that the swan is silent for a lifetime, and only sings once, beautifully, and dies. Beautiful nonsense. There is a famous madrigal by Orlando Gibbon with these lyrics:
The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approach'd, unlock'd her silent throat;
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more.
Farewell, all joys; O Death, come close mine eyes;
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.