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Essay about Comparing Leda and the Swan and Leda's sister and the Geese

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Comparing Leda and the Swan and Leda's sister and the Geese


The poem Leda and the Swan is about the rape of Leda committed by Zeus in disguise as a swan.  Because of what they have done, it sets history in motion.  Thus, it's fated that Helen will launch the war of a thousand ships, how Troy will fall, and Agamemnon will be murdered,...etc. 

The poem Leda's sister and the Geese is about where Leda went that led up to her encounter with Zeus.  She then goes home whimpering and tells her mother that she's been raped by a swan and she fears she's pregnant.  Her mother then makes her sister take on all of the chores while she "takes it easy."

Leda and the Swan is meant to be a serious poem. It is in iambic pentameter consisting
of 4 line stanzas.  It has a traditional rhyme scheme consisting of ABAB CDCD EFG EFG.  It is interesting in the fact that 4 of the rhymes aren't perfect:  "push" "rush" and "up" "drop."  The poem starts out aggressive and ends in a passive tone.  Words used to describe Leda directly were:  "the staggering girl" "her thighs" "her nape" "her helpless breast" and "her loosening thighs."  An indirect word describing Leda is "terrified vague fingers." Indirect words used to describe the swan indirectly were:  "great wing" "dark webs" "that white rush"  "blood" "indifferent beak" "feathered glory."  Direct terms used to describe the swan were "wings" "bill" and "beak." The swan was never actually called Zeus or even the swan in the poem. Agamemnon was the only name to be mentioned in the poem. 

Verbs play an important role in understanding the poem.  It starts out in present tense with words such as "holds" "push" "feel" "engenders" and they shift at the end towards past tense ...


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...r sister saying how she'll have to help take care of her kid and how she'll probably have twins.  The sixth stanza talks about how her mother comforted her and said that her sister will take on all her chores.  The seventh stanza is her sister complaining of how many chores she's already doing as is.  The last stanza talks about how Leda just "takes it easy" and doesn't have to do anything.

In comparison between Leda and the Swan vs. Leda's sister and the Geese, one is cynical and serious while the other was meant to be humorous.  Both poems are in different meters and rhyme schemes.  Nevertheless, both are respectively great literary works of art.

Works Cited

Holstad, Scott C. , "Yeats's 'Leda and the Swan': Psycho-Sexual Therapy in Action".  n.pag. On-line.  AOL. 23 Sept. 2003. 

Available WWW: http://www.well.com/user/sch/yeats.html


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