Baignait nerveusement ses ailes dans le poudre,/Et disait, le coeur plein de son beau lac natal:/Eau, quand donc pleuvras-tu? quand tonneras-tu, foudre?/Je vois ce malheureux, mythe etrange et fatal.-Baudelaire (Nervously bathing its wings in dust, it said, with its heart over-flowing with its beautiful natal lake, water when will you rain, thunderbolt when will you strike, I see this sad thing, strange and fatal myth,) A swan, which has escaped from its cage, finds only an empty gutter. Has the world passed it by since it was incarcerated? Or is it trying to escape to its childhood with its security and warmth? During the period when it had been in the cage, it had built up the image of a beautiful world outside - a lake with clear rippling water, gentle breeze, rain-drops floating down or pouring, even a thunderbolt. The whole nature built as its play-ground, as it swam with siblings behind its mother. But now freedom had brought only an empty gutter. Was the world of its childhood real or had been dreamt up de toutes pieces? Perhaps neither. Having missed the struggles of growing up, the swan was now only crumbling inside, unable to cope with the world as it was. But is the world only an empty gutter? Don't any plants sprout in it when spring comes? Soljhenitsyn tells of a committed escaper in "the Gulag". He used to start planning his escape from the prison as soon as he arrived at one. Escape, of course, meant being chased by trained ferocious dogs, beaten, given solitary confinement, being threatened with murder. But he was not made for imprisonment. He had first escaped from school, then from an orphanage in an underwear in the Taiga winter. But freedom from the concentration camps in Stalin's Russia was nothing more than furlough between two imprisonments. And even if the prisoner was allowed to join his family after a long period, the problems of adjustment with his wife and children, who had lived differently during all these years, posed themselves in a new way. But even a moment of freedom snatched from the jaws of tyranny is worth a struggle. Freedom is neither unnecessary nor an illusion. Rousseau's juxtaposition of freedom and slavery may be too stark and the idea of freedom in nature silly. But the man has been fighting for freedom since the production of the first surplus and, consequently, the subjugation of the first man. We may ridicule Rousseau's bourgeois "freedom". But, up to now, that is the only freedom possible and therefore worth fighting for. As to Baudelaire's swan, one may be sad. But one has no right to be a pessimist. The writer is a former ambassador