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Leda and the Swan
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William Butler Yeats (from The Tower, 1928)
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A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                                Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?




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Bird Poems collection > Table of Contents
Sonnets collection > Table of Contents

Leda and the Swan on an Apulean terra cotta ritual vessel
Leda and the Swan by Cesare de Sesto, copied from Leonardo da Vinci’s original painting

Back to the index > Poems by William Butler Yeats
Profile of the author > Irish poet/playwright W.B. Yeats

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