The wild duck of Denmark


The wild duck of Denmark
Søren Kierkegaard

A wild duck was flying north with his fellow wild ducks in springtime. En route, he happened to land in a barnyard in Denmark, where he quickly made friends with the tame ducks that lived there. The wild duck enjoyed the corn and fresh water. He decided to stay for an hour, then for a day, then for a week, and finally for a month.

At the end of that time, he contemplated flying to join his friends in the vast northern lands, but he had begun to enjoy the safety of the barnyard, and the tame ducks had made him feel so welcome. So he stayed for the summer.

One autumn day, he heard the quacking of his fellow wild ducks as they were flying south. It stirred him with delight, he enthusiastically flapped his wings, and rose into the air to join them. Much to his dismay, however, he found he could rise no higher than the eaves of the barn. As he waddled back to the safety of the barnyard, he muttered to himself: “I’m satisfied here, I have plenty of food, and the area is good. Why should I leave?” So he spent the winter on the farm.

The next spring, when the wild ducks flew overhead again, he felt a strange stirring within his breast, but he did not try to fly up to meet them.

When they returned the following autumn, they again called him to rejoin them, but this time, the duck did not even notice them. There was no stirring within his breast. He simply kept on eating corn which made him fat.