Leda and The Swan

This poem in ‘The Tower’ collection, is about the Greek god Zeus disguised as a swan who rapes a girl. The baby that is born from this rape is Helen of Troy and links into the Greek myths. The main themes of this poem are corruption, abuse of power, war, violence and links to the horrors of the Irish war of independence. The rhyme scheme is every other line. In the first stanza there is violent imagery and a sense of theatrical/dramatic language. There is surprise as the young girl is overpowered by the swan. The use of a colon adds to the effect of shock. It gives the impression the swan is determined in this violent sexual act. The second stanza has erotic language in it as focus on the forcefulness of this power Zeus has over her. The third one is about him taking control and the possible suggestion of him taking her virginity, or that it is a mythical reference to breaking the walls of Troy. It also mentions ‘Agamemnon’ which was a city around Troy. The final stanza questions whether she knows what has happened and understands it. Does she know or just assume. Doctor M Craddock spoke about the poem, “Are humans mere children in understanding beside the Gods or forces that rule the world or history”.

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