Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For Tengrain: Leda and the Swan, by William Butler Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By his dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

How can anybody, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins, engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Literature Network » William Butler Yeats » Leda And The Swan


Randal Graves said...

Damn you, bloody Irishman, for being so good with the word.

Utah Savage said...

He was wasn't he? One of my favorites. Glad you like.

Anonymous said...

My, that is lovely. I've not read it before so thank you.

Tengrain said...

From the bit of classics that remains in my brain, Leda and the Swan will always be my favorite. I had not heard this poem before, it is quite choice.

Thanks for the dedication.

Now the question remains, who is Leda and who is the swan?



Ghost Dansing said...

Leda and the Swan.....

Leda and the Swan is a motif from Greek mythology, in which Zeus came to Leda in the form of a swan. According to later Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen and Polydeuces, children of Zeus while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her husband Tyndareus, the King of Sparta. As the story goes, Zeus took the form of a swan and raped or seduced Leda on the same night she slept with her husband, King Tyndareus. In some versions, she laid two eggs from which the children hatched. In other versions, Helen is a daughter of Nemesis, the goddess who personified the disaster that awaited those suffering from the pride of Hubris.

The subject undoubtedly owed its sixteenth-century popularity to the paradox that it was considered more acceptable to depict a woman in the act of copulation with a swan than with a man. The earliest depictions show the pair love-making with some explicitness—more so than in any depictions of a human pair made by artists of high quality in the same period.


Dali Swan

Utah Savage said...

Oh, no doubt about it, you are Leda. Sleep easy.

Utah Savage said...

Ghost my dear, thank you for the history, and thanks especially for the links. I like the DaVinci the best. Looks almost like a Botticelli.

Tengrain said...

Utah - I will sleep easy knowing I am Leda. I have a down comforter...

Thanks again for the dedication - I must get out my Yeats.