Poems by Rilke, H.D., D.H. Lawrence
Performed by Andrea Ludwig and the Talisker Players
"Leda Songs" is based of the tale of Leda and the Swan, a tale from Greek mythology whereby Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces (or, depending on the interpretation, rapes) and impregnates Leda. The interpretation of this myth in art is multifaceted, with some works quite aggressive, many sensual and erotic, and some romantic. While they are quite different in style, the poems I chose - three different authors’ takes on the myth - share a similar sensibility of showing Leda’s perspective, as if she is a willing participant in the transformation and sensuality of the experience. The first poem, "Leda" by Rainer Maria Rilke, depicts the transformation of Zeus into a swan, and the entanglement of his need for Leda: “Only then did he realize feathers were glory and fully became swan in her womb”. The second "Leda" was written by H.D. (Heidi Doolittle), and it illustrates Leda as welcoming, inviting her lover into an alternate world: “Where
the slow lifting of the tide, floats into the river and slowly drifts among the reeds, and lifts the yellow flags, he floats where tide and river meet.” D.H. Lawrence’s "Leda", the final poem, is a short and sweet verse where Leda invites Zeus to come not as a man but as
a swan: “...come with a hiss of wings, and sea-touch tip of a beak, and treading of wet, webbed, wave-working feet, into the marsh-soft belly”. These three poems ornament the idea of metamorphosis, and the intertwining of two lovers.
"Leda Songs" was commissioned by the Talisker Players for their 2014-15 season.