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Yeats' Leda and the Swan

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Kayla Mann Enc 110 Explication Paper 21 January 2006 Yeats' Leda and the Swan In Leda and the Swan, Yeats is describing a rape. The poem is written in the second person which suggests that it is being told by a bystander. The first stanza is describing foreplay. In the first line, "A sudden blow" is used to bring intensity, impact, and tension to the rape. It is saying Leda is taken by surprise. He has taken over her, caressing her thighs. By using the words " dark webs"(3) the speaker is suggesting that Leda cannot see the webs (the rapist) because it is dark and that she has been captured. Darkness suggests night time. He has her by the nape (back of neck). ...read more.


Leda feels like she is not herself anymore according to line 8: "But feel the strange heart beating where it lies". After foreplay and intercourse, we come to the third stanza which is climax. "A shudder in the loins engenders there, The broken wall the burning roof and tower" (9,10) suggests that the rapist orgasms and ejaculates into Leda, impregnating her, yet he is burning with passion during his climax. The word "brute" could be taken literally as "having no feelings," but that would make the word "blood" enigmatic. "Brute blood" is closer to "anger" or to a passion without consciousness and still supports the apparent violence of the lines. Leda and the Swan would be the expression of a dream, an unfulfilled sexual fantasy of Yeats. ...read more.


Other words or phrases symbolizing Zeus are "great wings beating", "by the dark webs", and "brute blood". When the speaker says "And Agamemnon dead" he is referring to Leda's daughter, Clytemnestra, who kills her husband, Agamemnon, after she was unfaithful to him. Leda and Zeus had another daughter, Helen of Troy, for whom the Trojan war was fought. So when you read the lines "A shudder in the loins engenders there, The broken wall, the burning roof and tower, And Agamemnon dead" you realize that this from the Trojan war when they broke the wall and lit the tower on fire and killed Agamemnon. This a very powerful poem. Yeats did very well using alliteration through out the poem to bring a lot of intensity. I interpreted the poem one way, but if you research it more then you find it is more than what you think. ?? ?? ?? ?? Mann ...read more.

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