Leda e il Cigno – dalla mitologia alla modernità

 An example of  W. B. Yeast’s style and message is Leda and the Swan composed in 1923 and published first in “The Dial” (1924), then was included in the collection The Tower.
The speaker retells (narra in modo nuovo) a story from Greek mythology:  the rape of the girl Leda by the god Zeus, who had assumed (aveva assunto) the form of a swan (cigno). Two girls and two boys were born by this sexual intercourse (rapporto) – Clytemnestra and Helen and the war-gods Castor and Pollux, then protagonists of the  Trojan War. In the poem it is important to know only the consequence of the war that brought the end of the ancient mythological era and the birth of modern history. Yeats sees in Leda the woman chosen by Zeus (Jupiter) for the “Annunciation” of the classical civilization.

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still                                                  

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed                                      

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,                                           

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her looseningthighs?                        

And how can body, laid in that white rush,                                

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?                         

A shudder in the loins engenders there                                          

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.                                       

                                          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?

blow: colpo     
beating: che battono
staggering: sgomenta  
thights: coscie  
webs: membrane        
nape: nuca      
bill: becco  
loosening: che cedono
laid: preso 
but: se non 
shudder: fremito              
loins: lombi
caught up: presa  
mastered: dominata