Yeats’s Leda and the Swan: the power of poetry

13 minutes

The brevity and beauty of Yeats’s verses reveal poetry’s enduring significance

William Butler Yeats’s sonnet ‘Leda and the Swan’ (1928) reinterprets the rape of the Greek mythological figure Leda by the god Zeus in the form of a swan. In just 14 lines and 113 words, Yeats provokes a powerful, unnerving aesthetic experience, using both language and form to explore the transition from ancient mythology to modern Western history. In this close reading, the American blogger Evan Puschak analyses the work in a historical context, and through the lens of Yeats’s views on the ebbs and flows of history as laid out in his book A Vision (1925).

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