Leda and the Swan

Topics: Greek mythology, Zeus, Violence Pages: 2 (1306 words) Published: October 31, 2014

Explore how Yeats presents control in Leda and the Swan
"By the dark webs, her napes caught his bill"
Yeats' poem 'Leda and the Swan' was supposedly written in 1923 during the period of Irish Civil War although it was published in 1928, it was a time of confusion and division in Ireland. 'Leda and the Swan' symbolises the conflicting relationship between Ireland and Britain during the early 20th century, this conflict is shown through Yeats' use of violence and godly image through the swan and the loss of innocence through Leda. 'Leda and the Swan' is based off Greek mythology when Zeus disguises himself as a swan and rapes Leda, resulting in the birth of two demi-gods, Helen and Pollux and two mortal children, Castor and Clytemnestra. The swan also metaphorically represents the power of Britain while Leda represents the vulnerability of Ireland. Throughout the entire poem Yeats conveys this image of godly power and imagery through the act of rape carried out by the swan. The "great wings" of the swan describe the sheer size creating this image of immense strength which overpowers Leda. This line could also suggest that this swan is larger than average size, this depicts the image of godly power because Zeus is a more impressive and powerful being than a human. This imagery of godly power is further portrayed when the swan is described as a "feathered glory", this shows the swan as a majestic and glorified creature, however the act in which the swan partakes is far from glorious because it is sinful. This godly image perceived by the swan is further depicted when Leda takes on his "knowledge with his power" which shows the swan as omniscient, much like that of a god, this quote also shows how Leda has accepted the fact that she is unable to do anything in this situation as he is a god who is much more powerful than herself. This godly imagery is also presented in 'The Cold Heaven' where Yeats describes his heartbroken feelings as "injustice of the skies",...
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