The Use of Greek Mythology in "Leda and the Swan"

The Use of Greek Mythology in "Leda and the Swan"
Poetry is a very artistic and creative way for poets to freely express themselves, whether it be love, hate, sadness, joy, and even to express themselves sexually. William Butler Yeats uses Greek mythology in ?Leda and the Swan? to describe the sexual nature of the poem. Yeats uses many poetic elements and techniques to describe the sexuality of the poem. He uses elements such as language and the structure of the poem itself to portray to his readers a very vivid picture of the sensual elements of this poem. Through structure and language Yeats is able to paint a powerful sexual image to his readers without directly giving it meaning of the poem. This image Yeats is portraying is important because it helps readers to look beyond the surface and get the deeper more erotic meaning of ?Leda and the Swan.?
Language is an essential element in writing poetry. Vivid language can express thoughts or ideas readers may otherwise not be able to recognize in such a short poem as a sonnet. In ?Leda and the Swan? Yeats uses strong language to show the forcefulness of this encounter with a swan. The use of language can paint readers a positive or negative image about the encounter. Yeats uses these powerful words such as ?staggering? to symbolize the brut ness of this attack this gives readers a negative connotation. Yeats also uses sensual words such as ?her thighs caressed? and ?helpless breast upon his breast? to show the positive side of a sexual encounter. Yeats uses this powerful language to express the sexual side of ?Leda and the Swan.?
The next element which shows sexuality in this poem is the structure. In Yeats sonnet he uses a pattern called iambic pentameter. This pattern places strong emphasis on certain words in each line. In Yeats poem words such as ?sudden?, ?shudder?, ?broken? and ?burning? are stressed in this rhyme scheme. These stressed words make the message of the poem more life like. Many believe that iambic pentameter is successful because it sounds like a human heartbeat with a weak word followed by a stronger more passionate word. In Yeats poem a weak word such as ?A? is followed by a strong word such as ?shudder? which successfully demonstrates iambic pentameter. With this added human like element such as a heartbeat the passion and sexual nature of the poem is intensified.

The final element that helps Yeats to describe the sexual nature of this poem is its type which is a petrachan sonnet. This type of sonnet is divided into eight lines of iambic pentameter which is called an octave and six lines of iambic pentameter called a sestet. The octave of this poem involves the sexual encounter itself. The octave gives the readers a descriptive look into the ferocity of the poem. The sestet is the resolution or the climax after sex. The sestet can be described as the ejaculation Yeats uses ?A shudder in the loins engenders there? to infer the ejaculation. With the use of a petrachan sonnet Yeats is able to give his readers a deeper sense of the sexual nature of ?Lead and the Swan.?

The use of poetic devices such as language, structure, and literary devices poets are able to relay the message of their poems without directly giving their readers the message of the poems. In ?Leda and the Swan? Yeats is able to demonstrate his ability to delivery his readers the theme of the poem through language and the structure of the poem. The sexual nature of ?Leda and the Swan? is excellently conveyed without forcing the concept of sexuality upon his readers.

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