During the sonnet’s opening line Yeats shows a surprise: “A sudden blow: the great wings beating still” (l. 1). What this line does for the poem’s symbolic meaning is makes the reader jump with shock, and gives the perception of the wings as great, and powerful. Next, the poem provides an introduction to the victim of this rape: “Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed by the dark...
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...els as this must happen in the ideal realm of how Yeats would have like symbolism. Overt meaning is the opposite of symbolism, and if no different opinions can be made on a particular symbol, then there ceases to be a symbol. Imagination stands out in the philosophy of Yeats, and without imagination there cannot be art. Without art there cannot be symbolism to convey, only reality: something everyone needs a break from, in order to relax and to think.
Yeats, William Butler. “Leda and the Swan.” The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary poetry. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Eds. Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, & Robert O’Clair. New York, NY: Norton, 2003.
---, “The Symbolism of Poetry.” The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary poetry. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Eds. Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, & Robert O’Clair. New York, NY: Norton, 2003. 877-883.
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