So why should you care about Yeats's retelling of this admittedly brutal story? Well, for starters, it's a pretty bold move to try to recast something as violent and despicable as rape (even swan-rape) through the lens of art. One question this poem invites us to ponder is: what, exactly, is fair game for artistic content, and poetry in particular? Are there just some subjects that art should avoid altogether? Should Yeats have toned down the language to make it clear that what goes on in this poem is unethical in the extreme? Does the fact that this is an ancient myth somehow make the rape of Leda more acceptable to an audience? In what ways has our modern civilization evolved from the ancient world?


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