Poetry AnalysisPoetry is a very powerful way of communication between a writer and a reader. Just like other forms of literature, poetry reflects the thoughts, wisdom, and sensibilities of the one who created it.
Since poetry is a combination of symbolism and different parts of speech presented in a creative way, every reader sees and interprets it in his or her own way. Its meaning is just like a big puzzle that one should put together wherein most of the time, the writer chooses not to reveal it. Moreover, in classical masterpieces just like the old Greek poetry, it is sometimes impossible to know its meaning because those who created it are long gone from this world. Most poetries especially those classics explore social predicaments, life complexities and human nature.
Its authenticity lies in its realistic themes and humane nature. It reflects history and the writers’ social and cultural orientation, most of the time it contains political messages. However, the impact that poetry has on people depends on how they are going to perceive its meaning.In Greek poetry, the experience and fulfillment of love is often associated with fate, heroism and tragedy.
Leda and the Swan by William Butler Yeats is one of the greatest poetries that talks about Greek methodology. Leda and the Swan from the title itself will indicate the characters that will be the subject of the poetry. Casual reading will not be enough to fully grasp the author’s messages on this beautiful sonnet or poetry. Yeats, who is the writer of the “Leda and the Swan” seems to assume that the readers already have reasonable background knowledge on Greek mythology.
In order to fully understand this sonnet, it is significant to review Greek mythology and author’s personal idealism.In this sonnet, Yeats retells the story of Zeus seducing Leda in a form of a swan. The writer approached the myth though full of allusions and symbolisms. Leda in Greek mythology is the queen of Sparta was being approached and seduced by Zeus in a form of a swan.
The divine swan’s encounter with Leda resulted into the birth of Helen of Troy who was considered the most beautiful woman in Greece. Helen who would later trigger the eventful destruction of Troy paved the way of the beginning of the modern era. The single act of Zeus towards Leda that results into the conception of Helen produced a remarkable change in history (Leda 2008). The writer in this poetry represented Leda and the Swan as a symbol of beginning.
The poem will bring the readers to a sensual and aesthetic experience because the writer used descriptive and adjective words to indicate Leda’s helplessness and vulnerability (staggering, caressed, helpless, terrified, loosening, drop). The poem is a bizarre description of violent act of rape. However the writer described the physical interaction in a sophisticated way through skilful use of rhythm and flowery descriptive words. It was brutally passionate but violent.
The image of rape in this sonnet is artful. What happened with Zeus’s and Leda became an inspiration for the change of history.The representation of swan in the Sonnet is somehow ironic. Swan is naturally perceived as birds of beauty, grace and peace.
Contemporary world considers swan as a loving and tender extraordinary creature. However, Zeus used swan in myth as a disguise to easily get Leda. Zeus as the king of gods congruently symbolizes swan in terms of divinity and mystery though. The writer in the second stanza conveys confusion and wonder to Leda.
Does it occur to Leda that what’s happening is a divine intervention? In the last two lines, Leda seems to recognize the power that overtook her. The violent attack of the swan reveals Zeus’s indifference and unconcern attitude for Leda. It shows his selfish desire to fulfil his passion. The swan in this sonnet abused its power of divine intervention.
Zeus’s as a divine used his power of transformation in a wrong way. Swan was obviously used as a figurative word that represents Zeus’s violence, brutality and power.Yeats’s craftily used evocative words that indicate the poem’s theme of violence, Leda’s response, violence and sensuality. The description towards swans “sudden blow: the great wings still; dark webs; shudder in the loins” raping a young woman is terrifying and horrible however the writer manages to awakes reader’s senses because of passionate description of physical contact.
Clearly the feelings between the mates are not mutual. But the poetry leaves the question whether Leda was somehow overtaken by the swan’s passion and power. In this poem, love is unpredictable yet passionate and lustful. The writer revealed the other side of love that indicates tragedy but not happy ending, which also indicates power and superiority but not mere emotions.
In “Wedding Ring” on the other hand by Denise Levertov which is also considered a contemporary or modern poetry explores the speaker’s relationship with the wedding ring developed in time. Just like any other poetry, Levertov uses figures of speech and literary devices to illustrate what the wedding ring means to the speaker after the wedding day. Moreover, it caters the message of how love deteriorates in marriage and reveals one of the basic realities that love is an everyday decision. Thus, the poem is not an attempt to discourage the readers towards marriage, but it shows how the unfulfilled promises and meaning of a particular object greatly affects a person, and how its given meaning makes us yearn too much only to find out that we are trapped in false expectations that are destructive.
Wedding ring, they say, symbolizes love, commitment, and eternity which are supposedly found and shared in marriage. The man who gives the wedding ring represents a part of himself and the meaning he gives to it represents his love and identity as a person. The wedding ring for a woman who will accept it in return may perceive it as a symbol of hope, responsibility, and reciprocity of feelings and fulfillment of dreams. There is sadness in the tone of the speaker in the first two lines that indicate the location of her wedding ring now in her life: “My wedding ring lies in a basket / as if at the bottom of a well” (Line 1-2).
The first two lines paint a picture about a woman who tries to detach and depart with the memories of her marriage. It gives a subtle description about how her marriage ended up. It was in a low point or “at the bottom of a well.”In the third and fourth line, the persona says, “Nothing will come to fish it back up / and onto my finger again” which may mean that she is now separated with her husband.
If there will come a time when he will come back or someone will offer her again the promises of the wedding ring, she may not be able to accept it anymore. The image of the wedding ring’s location is further described as she writes, “It lies / among keys to abandoned houses,” (Line 5-6) which suggests that the memories that the object represent are one of the things that she wants to abandon and desert. The memories it brings are perhaps painful that are not worth unlocking, just like the “abandoned houses.”Though the speaker almost denounces the presence of the wedding ring in her life and gives much thought to finally remove the ring out of her life, she gives reasons not to: “It can’t be sold / for the marriage was good in its own / time, though that time is gone” (Line 13-15).
For her, the wedding ring, the things it symbolizes, and the memories it brings will be always be a part of her. The power of the ring, though painful, provided her some restrictions to forget completely. Although some memories are painful, one can turn them into something beautiful and constructive. Here, the author still believes that her marriage provided her something good since not all memories are bad anyway.
There are memories that are worth keeping, just like the friendship they created or the love that made her realize about the realities of this world. Even if humans wants to escape from their memories, they give a power over them, so all they need to do is to make memories, whether good or bad. The speaker obviously understood that. “Though that time is gone” of being with him physically, she will always have the memories they created together.
The ring also “[…] can’t be given away / for fear of bringing ill-luck” (lines 11-12). The speaker is afraid that whoever gets the ring after letting go of it may experience the same thing. For her, the wedding ring is like a curse that gives misfortune.The “Wedding Ring” poetry explores a subtle political message.
The fact that Denise Levertov was an American woman described by Joan Hallisey in her article as an “engaged poet that has spoken out strongly on women’s rights, peace and justice issues,” the message of the poem can also be political. In this poem, Levertov illustrates the vulnerability of a woman who easily believes in such promises. Women’s lack of identity and women’s need of too much belongingness with a man sometimes unconsciously encourage them to engage themselves in impulsive commitment. Women can easily be drawn by fanciful words and sugar-quoted promises which may lead into despair in the long run.
The concept of “love is blind” can be applicable in this poetry. When love occurs, the application of rationality and logic is sometimes impossible.Both poetries reflect the social and cultural orientation of its own settings. It reveals the different facets of love.
Both poems high lights the tragedy of love and the weaknesses of human nature when it comes to emotions.;;;;;;;;Work Cited Page:Levertov, Denise. “Wedding Ring.” The Selected Poems of Denise Levertov.
Ed. Paul Lacey,Robert Creely. New York: New Directions Publishing, 2003. p.
121Hallisey, Joan. “Denise Levertov (b.1923).” Georgetown University.
20 January 2009.http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/heath/syllabuild/iguide/levertov.
htmlLeda. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 30, 2008,from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.
britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/334476/Leda;Bogan Louise 1938. William Butler Yeats. The Atlantic.
The Atlantic MonthlyGroup 2008http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/193805/yeats;;;;;;;;;;;;