Is it me or does anyone else think that Yeats’ painting of “Leda & the Swan” is just totally off? When we first saw the painting in class last week, I was so confused because the poem and the peice are such a contradition. Yeats uses phrases and particular words in the poem that even signify something different than what is being portrayed in the painting. For instance, he states in line 2 that ” her thighs were carressed by the dark webs” (2). When someone visualizes the act of rape, the words “carress” just doesn’t match up with such an idea. Also, when you look at the painting of Leda, as we discuss in class, it seems like Leda is overpowering the animal instead of the other way around. If i never read the poem and i was just presented with image, i would think that the bird is Leda’s pet and that she’s just caressing it against her breasts. I meant to say this in class, i can’t remember is anyone said it, but there is a serenity that is evoked from this image as well. It doesnt make sense to think of the act of rape as something that is calming or pleasurable, despite the fact that it is sex.
I really wonder what Yeats was thinking when he decided to write a poem about a BIRD raping a woman instead of just writing about a MAN raping a woman. I guess we’ll never trully know. 🙂