Surlalune has a Swan Maiden tale. The site is not yet annotated and doesn't include history currently, but this particular tale has a very interesting twist on the story-it has a more typical Swan Maiden beginning, where the man steals the dress of the maiden while she is bathing and won't give it back, insisting she become his wife. She goes with him unwillingly, although these tales always have them happily married after this rather unlikely beginning, which irritates me. As always, the maiden escapes when she has a chance-but then the fairy tale turns into East of Sun, West of the Moon, only with the male doing the searching instead of the woman. Once again, the running away part would imply that she doesn't WANT to be his wife, but once he finds her at the end she goes back with him and they live happily ever after (they must have a REALLY good marriage counselor.)
One more issue that comes up when telling this tale to children is the issue of the happy vs. sad ending. It's a controversial topic that comes up often in fairy tale conversations-which versions should we tell children? The most authentic, most "adult" versions? The Victorian, somewhat authentic, sometimes very morbid versions? Or the modern children's versions that fit our ideals of "child appropriate," which are not authentic at all?
Images-Finnish National Ballet, picture by Neil McCartney; Kiev Classical Ballet; Mariinsky Ballet