Bartolomeo Ammanati’s “Leda and the Swan” in Perspective
by Paulette Demers Turco
—in the background, a wall-sized painting of nude Adam and Eve,
partly obstructed by Leda’s cowering head.
The marble cube from which this scene was shaped—
a well-known caper of the brute of gods,
led by lust, disguised, playing the odds—
almost in view. Leda never escaped.
She’s stunned. Her regal robe has been undraped
by this white swan. His proud breast disregards
her terror of his winged assault, his prods
and pecks, his plunge between her thighs. She’s raped
in this tight space. Beauty made her his prey,
her strength inadequate to fight Olympus,
her helpless body ovulating, set
to conceive famed Helen, Pollux that day—
two more, fruit of her husband’s love. Her compass
tossed, Greek ships would launch pain … and regret.