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Leda and the Swan

Leda and the Swan


by William Butler Yeats

Leda and the Swan Fate and Free Will Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #4

And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies? (lines 7-8)

Leda never gains a clear view of the swan. She sees only a "white rush" of feathers. These lines may imply that Leda's resistance to the swan is weakening. She may now find him to be an object of fascination.

Quote #5

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead. (lines 10-11)

Leda's pregnancy fits into a pattern for the fate of world history. Ironically, she never has less free will than in the question of whether to become an important figure in history.

Quote #6

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? (lines 11-14)

The final lines of the poem crystallize Leda's situation: she is "mastered" by the fateful powers of the universe, but she has the opportunity to demonstrate her free will by acquiring knowledge of her role in history. The poem leaves open the question of whether she does.

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