leda and the swan

Leda_-_after_Michelangelo_BuonarrotiI’m also currently doing some research into the Greek myths that enmesh the Trojan War (because Greek myths are fucking great). I just found this devastating poem by Yeats about Leda’s rape by Zeus when he appeared to her in the form of a swan. She subsequently gave birth to his daughter, the infamous Helen, and Cassandra, who would murder her husband Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter Iphigenia.

Leda and The Swan

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.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, 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?

W. B. Yeats1865– 1939


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