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The Poetry of W. B. Yeats

3. Leda and the Swan

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About this Lecture


In this module, we explore Yeats' poem 'Leda and the Swan', in which he reflects on the themes of violence, knowledge and power in a retelling of the well-known Classical myth.


In this course, Dr Peter Howarth (Queen Mary, University of London) explores the poetry of W. B. Yeats through six key poems: 'An Irish Airman Foresees his Death', 'Easter, 1916', 'Leda and the Swan', 'No Second Troy', 'The Cold Heaven', and 'Sailing to Byzantium'. As we move through the course, we think about why Yeats wrote the poetry he did – looking in particular at his passion for Ireland, his obsession with Maud Gonne, and his interest in philosophy and the occult.


Dr Peter Howarth came to Queen Mary in 2007, after lecturing at the University of Nottingham (2000-2007) and completing a PhD at Cambridge in 2000. His first book, British Poetry in the Age of Modernism (CUP, 2006) explored the poetics of non-modernism in the twentieth century, and his teaching and writing have continued to explore the relation of form, social setting and historical time ever since.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Howarth, P. (2018, August 15). The Poetry of W. B. Yeats - Leda and the Swan [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Howarth, P. "The Poetry of W. B. Yeats – Leda and the Swan." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,