“Leda And The Swan”

William Butler Yeats’s “Leda and the Swan” retells the story from Greek mythology of the rape of a girl named Leda by Zeus, the most powerful of the Greek gods. The “twist” of the story is that Zeus is disguised as a swan. Yeats presents this tale in a relatively graphic way, so modern readers may find the language disturbing. Stories about sex with animals were fairly common in classical societies like Ancient Greece, and the myth of Leda and the swan was once well known.

“Leda and the Swan” was published in Yeats’s 1928 collection The Tower – one of the most celebrated and important literary works of the 20th century. The Tower includes other great poems like “Among Schoolchildren” and “Sailing to Byzantium.”

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