• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Leda and the Swan Commentary.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Marc Barron November 2, 2003 Period 7 Leda and the Swan Commentary The poem "Leda and the Swan" is based on the mythological story about the rape of Leda, a mortal woman who marries a mortal man, Tyndareus, but was sought out by Zeus, the god of the gods. As a result of this rape, Leda lays two eggs, one which hatches into the war-gods Castor and Polydeuces, and the other which hatches into Clytemnestra and Helen, who is to become the most beautiful woman alive. Yeats poem tells the actual situation of Zeus having sex with Leda in the form of a swan. Yeats use of structure and imagery show that the whole poem is a poem of contrasts. The poem is written in a traditional form, a sonnet, using a traditional rhyme scheme. However, the irony in the structure of this poem is extremely non-traditional. ...read more.

Middle

The imagery, and the diction in general, is also representative, at first glance, of oppositional elements within the text. As stated before, a first reading shows Leda described in concrete terms and the swan described in abstract terms. Leda is the "staggering girl" (2) and the poem refers to "Her thighs," (2) "her nape," (3) "her helpless breast," (4) and "her loosening thighs" (6). The swan is never actually called Zeus or even the Swan. The "Swan" is described as "great wings," (1) "dark webs," (3) "the feathered glory," (6) "that white rush," (7) "blood," (13) and "indifferent beak" (15). A closer examination of the poem, however, shows that ambiguities do exist. The concrete and abstract images merge, thus creating ambiguities in the poem. Abstract terms are used for Leda, "terrified vague fingers," (5) and concrete terms are used for the swan, "wings," (1) "bill," (3) and "beak" (15). ...read more.

Conclusion

Yeats tone is aggressive in the first half of the octave, inquisitive by which he seems to glorify the rape in the second half of the octave, and passive in the sestet, where he questions the motives of Leda on "his knowledge with his power," (14) possibly alluding to the rape as a symbol for disaster in the future. (The birth of Helen leading to the fall of Troy). The tone draws the reader into the action and into the poem in the first quatrain, and then causes you to reflect on the horrific images of the rape in the last quatrain. Finally, a very important event is foreshadowed in "Leda and the Swan." The first half of the sestet projects the reader into the far future: "The broken wall... and Agamemnon dead" (9-11). This event foreshadows the Trojan War, which broke out as a result of Helen's abduction to Troy. This is a poem with many ambiguities and sexual connotations. Closer examination to structure shows the rape, followed by conception, followed by the fall of Troy. Word Count: 989 1 Barron ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level W.B. Yeats section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level W.B. Yeats essays

  1. How effective is W.B Yeats in cautioning the modern reader on the melancholic, the ...

    The next line tells us about important beliefs Christians have. I found that Spiritus Mundi is a medieval text for Christians, to inform them what they need to do to die in the grace of God. It is essentially "the art of dying well."

  2. Analysis of Literary Devices: ""Leda and the Swan" ...

    The use of this rhyme scheme allows for there to be a flow in the poem. For example in the second quatrain, Yeats uses the rhyme cdcd.

  1. In 1936 Yeats wrote, "I too have tried to be modern". How does his ...

    (Yeats, p.279) The reference to "holy" links to the next stanza and there is an air of paganistic ritualism with the use of "sages" and "holy fire"(17). He pleads with these holy men to liberate him from physical desires. The intensity of his physical pain is expressed in his pleas

  2. Love is a common theme in poetry and it has been written about for ...

    Another powerful poem by William Shakespeare is "Shall I compare thee to a summers day?" This poem, I feel is the more emotional poem of the two. It shows more emotions like joy and happiness and has a positive tone.

  1. Yeats' Leda and the Swan

    She can't wait for it to be over with but in the same aspect she can't help but feel the rapists compassion for her. The author also uses the metaphor "And how can body, laid in that white rush" (7)to describe the man's assault.

  2. Discuss the way Yeats explores the theme of destruction in "Leda and the Swan".

    This can be seen by the statement ?needless death after all? // For England may keep faith?. The idea of the sheer catastrophe of death under the oppression of England is a reflection of Leda?s innocence being lost due to the swan.

  1. Discuss ways in which violence is presented in Leda and the Swan

    The first stanza quickly switches between the present and past tense, linking itself with the idea of confusion brought upon by Leda by ?the feathered glory? ?s act of violence, and she herself does not know how she should respond, leading to her ?nape caught in her bill? and yet her being unable to ?push the feathered glory from her?.

  2. Discuss how Yeats uses the theme of the supernatural in "The Cat and the ...

    Henceforth, the moonlight can be seen as a torment for Yeats as he cannot get her off his mind as it?s ever-present but, simultaneously he admires her importance as without the moon it will be dark at night. Moreover, there are many differences between the cat and the moon.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work