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Leda and the Swan

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Introduction

Leda and the Swan The structure of the poem, Leda and the Swan, seems disorganized at first, but upon a closer look we can see that the last line of the third stanza, and the first line of the fourth stanza are actually one. By counting them this way, the poem is 14 lines long, and is beginning to show the structure of a sonnet. This brings us to the rhyme scheme of the poem, which would have been random is there were 15 lines, but instead it has a regular rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efgefg. The rhyme scheme and structure of the poem support the fact that the poem is probably a sonnet. Most sonnets can be divided into an octave and a sestet, as is the case with this poem. Not only does the rhyme scheme change after the octave, so does the pace and tone of the poem. The first eight lines offer us almost a narrative of the scene that is taking place, and proceed at quite a fast pace. The later six lines significantly slow down and the words become more obscure. ...read more.

Middle

Language used in the poem is always weak vs. strong, which on its own indicates that there is a conflict being portrayed, and Leda is probably the victim. Secondly, the poet has also made an interesting use of tenses to add to the meaning of the poem. The octave uses verbs in present tense, such as "beating", and so gives us the feeling that the scene is taking place right at that moment. The sestet uses verbs in past tense, such as "mastered" and "caught", which imply that the action has already taken place, and the attack is over. Alliteration is also used in this poem, and some examples are "he holds her helpless breast", which by the use of alliteration has become more poignant in emphasizing the injustice being done to Leda. Also, "brute blood", which is the only description of the surroundings, gives them human characteristics, by making them seem beast-like and unreasonable. Although the poem is short, it used imagery to a large extent and so is very expressive, and is able to convey significant meaning. ...read more.

Conclusion

This line gives us the image of a threatening invader coaxing Lena and we can almost say that the swan is given human characteristics. Personification can also be seen in the line, "he holds her helpless breast upon his breast". Imagery is also present in the third and fourth stanzas, in which the "shudder in the loins" can indicate ejaculation, or the end of the attack, which can be seen more clearly as a rape. "The broken wall", can support this by possibly indicating a broken hymen, or loss of virginity and innocence. The entire image of Agamemnon dead, who appears to be an outside character could signify that this act has caused a greater conflict or has greater consequences than the immediate ones mentioned. Finally, the imagery in the last stanza uses words such as "mastered", "brute", and "indifferent, which implies that everything was done so fast and with such power that Leda did not even know what was happening. At the end of the attack, the swan had taken what it had wanted, and without a care had left Leda lying there, quite different from the first feeling we got when the swan was caressing Leda as though he loved her. ...read more.

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