Essay on `` Leda And The Swan `` : The Great Famine Of The 1940 ' S

Essay on `` Leda And The Swan `` : The Great Famine Of The 1940 ' S

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Born in 1865 Yeats grew up in a country that was still recovering from the Great famine of the 1940 's. Yeats was born an Anglo-Irishman in Sandymount County Dublin, Ireland. His father was a descendant of Jervis Yeats who had been a famous painter who died in 1712. William Butler Yeats 's father married his wife while he was studying law but abandoned his studies to focus on art at Heatherley 's Art School in London. Susan Mary Pollexfen was from a wealthy family. After the marriage and birth of William Butler Yeats the family relocated to the Pollexfen home to stay with Susan 's extended family. Yeats grew up as a member of the Protestant Ascendancy and it was at a time it was undergoing a crisis of identity. These formative years forever shaped his work and most noticeably in his proclaimed masterpiece "Leda and The Swan" and in his earlier "The Second Coming" referencing his religious and political views. (Geoghegan)
When he was growing up he identified the home in Pollexfen both his childhood and spiritual home. This was his "country of the heart" and the entire Butler Yeats family was highly artistic. Yeats grew up as a member of the former protestant ascendancy at the time undergoing a crisis of identity. His family was supportive of the in changes in Ireland; the revival of the late 19th century disadvantaged his heritage. The Protestant Ascendancy was the political, economic domination of Ireland by great landowners and members of the established Church of England. The privileges of the Ascendancy were resented by a majority of the population, Irish Catholics, because they were not allowed to vote. (Yeats Autobiography)
The childhood and his young adult life saw the power shift from the minority Protestant Ascendancy t...


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... and disturbing. After being raped Leda has Helen of Troy and the poem alludes to the destruction of Troy. Some critics have interpreted "Leda and the Swan" to the "rape of Ireland by its colonial masters, the British. Viewing it from an ethical perspective it can be seen that this poem is about sexual assault between to humans and was intended to be erotic. (Shmoop Editoral team)
William B. Yeats was shaped by a country that was undergoing a transformation and was influenced by the world heading into World War I. As much as he was shaped politically he was also shaped spiritually by his experiences in the church and the occult. It can be said that a reoccurring symbol in his poetry is that of terror and the beast. It is an animal who rapes Leda in "Leda and the Swan" and a beast that lumbers to Bethlehem to give birth in "The Second Coming." (Lux Ex Septentrionis)

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