Leda and the swan

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"Leda and The Swan"

By: William Butler Yeats


A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can a body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

"Leda and the Swan" by William Butler Yeats is based on a Greek myth. The story reveals the rape of a young woman by a swan. Leda was the wife of Tynadareus, the daughter of Thestios, and the mother of Castor, Clytemnestra, Pollux, and Helen.

In this poem the Greek god Zeus takes the form of a swan and has his way with Leda. The rape produces two children (Pollux and Helen). Yeats uses this Greek myth and numerous literary devices throughout him poem in order to create a tone, establish a sonnet form, convey vivid images, and fully develop his perceptions. Such literary devices include allusion, alliteration, enjambment, and rhyme scheme. Leda and the swan represent an underlying theme in witch the powerless mortal versus the powerful immortal. The swan had complete control in the situation and there was nothing that Leda could do to fight him off. This poem also encompasses the deception of Zeus. The mask of a swan gives him a more appealing appearance that would be more welcomed. This allows him an...