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Word Count: 767
William Butler Yeats poem Leda and the Swan is a hauntingly beautiful recreation of the Greek myth in which Zeus takes the form of a swan in order to seduce Leda who as a result of this brutality becomes the mother of Helen of Troythe woman who is credited with starting the Trojan War Yeats choice of employing the sonnet format sometimes associated with romantic thoughts in order to retell this story along with other poetic techniques allows the poem to go beyond the familiar story which has been told and retold many times Within the realm of the storyline this poem captures the moment during which Zeus disguised as a swan overwhelms and attacks a helpless young woman During the first four lines of the poem the speaker wastes no time in situating the reader as to what is occurring A sudden blow the great wings beating still Above the staggering girl her thighs caressed By the dark webs her nape caught in his bill He holds her helpless breast upon his breast First of all swans are not often associated with being birds of violence One might envision a vulture attacking someone but swans are thought of as birds of beauty and grace and symbolize elegance and peacefulness The action of the swan in the poem actions is the total opposite and one may find it ironic This could imply the reason that Zeus chose this bird for his disguise it would be easier to surprise and overwhelm Leda Starting the poem with this instance of violence as Yeats chooses to brings the reader immediately in on a moment of supreme horror Throughout the poem the compact nature of the lines all in iambic pentameter along with their rhyming endings further escalate the fever pitch of the moment by swiftly moving along the reader The ringing assonance of end words still and bill caressed and breast all work
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