Reading “Leda and the Swan,” I think of the antithesis not in the poem itself, but of the poem as a whole compared to “The Second Coming.”

The tone of Yeats’ “The Second Coming” signals that of an end; the reader feels that through the various phrases (ie. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”) the world is coming to an end. To Yeats, the poem symbolizes the end of the modern world. This, then, is the end of one of Yeats’ ‘gyres.’ “Leda and the Swan,” on the other hand, seems to signify a beginning. This beginning stems from the mythology that Yeats kneaded into the poem; because Zeus raped Leda, she gave birth to Clytemnestra, Helen, Castor and Polydeuces. Helen, of course, was a large reason for the start of the Trojan War and the death of Agamemnon, as Yeats mentions:

A shudder in the loins engenders there
    The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
    And Agamemnon dead.

And so, the opposites here lie in a beginning and an end. Yeats worked so closely with the gyres and his theories surrounding them; this is evident by his careful observations and descriptions embedded in his poetry.


See your lovely faces tomorrow!