“lost” – david wagoner


Djurgården, November 2015

Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask it permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.


Illustration done by Willy Pogany in 1914 for T. W. Rolleston’s Tale of Lohengrin,1914. You can download the whole book from HERE.

Lohengrin is a character in German Arthurian literature. His story, which first appears in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, is a version of the Knight of the Swan legend known from a variety of medieval sources.

The son of Parzival (Percival), Lohengrin is a knight of the Holy Grail sent in a boat pulled by swans to rescue a maiden, Elsa, who is the daughter of the Duke of Brabant, and who is forbidden to ask about his identity. At King Arthur’s command he is taken by a swan through the air to Mainz, where he fights for Elsa, overthrows her persecutor, and marries her. He then accompanies the emperor to fight against the Hungarians, and subsequently against the Saracens. On his return home to Cologne, Elsa, contrary to the prohibition, persists in asking him about his origin. After being asked a third time he tells her, but at that instant is carried away by the swan back to the Grail.

Wolfram’s story was expanded in two later romances. In 1848 Richard Wagner adapted the medieval tale into his popular opera Lohengrin, on which Rolleston based his book.