Monday, April 15, 2013
Women as Mythmakers: Lucille Clifton's "Leda"
Lucille Clifton's response to the story of Leda's rape by the swan-formed Zeus, I cannot help but compare to William Butler Yeats' "Leda and the Swan:" "How can those terrified vague fingers push / The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?" Honestly, I think "Leda 1" is a direct response: "there is nothing luminous/ about this." Clifton gives voices to other Ledas, less victimized than Leda 1. But all of them are attempts to give voice to women's perspective, not that of the swan-god or the onlooker. My reading of this poem is hardly original--for some interesting criticism that suggests that Leda 2 and 3 are Mary and Eve, visit Shara McCallum’s “The Volta, the Vulva, Leda, and Lucille” at Voltage Poetry. Note: It was disturbingly difficult to find an image of Leda where she isn't smiling or kissing the swan on the beak. Gross.