Leda and the swan

Leda and the swan was written by William Butler Yeats in 1924, a widely
anthologized piece with several interpertations. The most commonly accepted
version tells a tale of Zeus in the form of a swan coming to earth and
impregnating the youthful Leda. As a result of this intercourse Leda produces
an egg which brought forth the beautiful Helen of Troy.
In a less Literal translation it is written up as “the manifestation of Yeats’
unrequited love from Maud Gonne”. (Holstad) Miss Gonne being a fellow
mystic, member of the ‘Heretic Order of the Golden Dawn’. A system where in
members believed that physical connection lessons the creativity of the soul and
there by only interacts with Yeats on a metaphysical plain during dreams or
meditation, has drivn him to vent his human frustration in a literary
Yeats cleanses himself of these emotions, in the form of a traditional
Italian Sonnet. A poem of Fourteen lines consisting of two stanzas,one Octave
and one sestet, allowing for a repetitive ABAB rhyme scheme.
It also has multiple allussions to Greek Mythology largely inpart to the
fact that it is written about Zeus, lord of the Greek gods. Yet that is not its only
mention of said mythology, he also mentions Helen of Troy, Agamemnon and
his tratorius wife -who goes un-named but dearly mentioned in his line “The
broken wall, the burning roof and tower and Agamemnon dead”-(Kennedy)
The imagery of the poem helps to depict the two beings by illistrating
the concrete form of Leda against the more abstract shape of the swan.
(Hargrove) Where in Leda is spoken of throughout the poem as “her
thighs”, “her nape”, “her helpless breasts” as the Swan is never literaly called
Zeus or even a swan it is merely mentioned as “great wings” “dark webs” “white
rush” and “feathered glory”. leaving a much fainter vi


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