Swan, "Now another joke...." (Schwitters)

< back

Schwitters wrote in a letter to his friend Christof Spengensen: "The well known artist Kurt Schwitters from Hanover….. lives as a refugee from the Hitler regime in England. He sat in a rowing boat on 2 June on Grasmere, an idyllic little lake with swans… He was absorbed in Nature and painted the landscape. His pocket-watch lay beside him, which he had got in Hanover. A swan came towards him and suddenly he heard a noise as if someone was drawing breath. He looked up where the noise came from and saw how the swan was swallowing the watch with great difficulty. Now then, all swans in England belong to the Crown so you cannot do anything to them and the poor Dadaist could not get his watch back and apart from this the swan hissed and swam away looking very superior." 
Schwitters reported this event to the press and demanded the arrest of the swan.
One paper ran a story ‘PC Trails Swan’ but that was as far as it went.
Schwitters asked his doctor if the swan would be ill from eating watches.
The doctor, whose name was Dr. Johnson, said that indeed that might be possible if the watch ended up in the appendix. However the most likely outcome was that the watch would be lost to Grasmere through the  natural digestive process, or possibly the swan would absorb the watch, all except for the glass.
After that the kind doctor gave the poor artist his own pocket watch and chain.