A sudden blow: the great wings beating still above the staggering girl …

W.B. Yeat’s Leda and the Swan, a line of which appears in Phillip K Dick’s short story Out in the Garden (below):

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

And Dick’s story – where the duck’s name, Sir Francis, is presumably a play on Sir Francis Drake and a drake as mature male duck.

“Sweetheart,” Nye said to her, “look who’s here. You remember Tom Lindquist, don’t you?”
Peggy looked up quickly. “Tommy Lindquist!” she exclaimed. “How are you? How nice it is to see you.”
“Thanks.” Lindquist shuffled a little in pleasure. “How have you been, Peg? I see you have a friend.”
“A friend?”
“Sir Francis. That’s his name, isn’t it?”
Peggy laughed. “Oh, Sir Francis.” She reached down and smoothed the duck’s feathers. Sir Francis went on searching out spiders from the grass. “Yes, he’s a very good friend of mine. But won’t you sit down? How long are you staying?”
“He won’t be here very long,” her husband said. “He’s driving through to New York on some kind of business.”
“That’s right,” Lindquist said. “Say, you certainly have a wonderful garden here, Peggy. I remember you always wanted a nice garden, with lots of birds and flowers.”
“It is lovely,” Peggy said. “We’re out here all the time.”
“Sir Francis and myself.”
“They spend a lot of time together,” Robert Nye said. “Cigarette?” He held out his pack to Lindquist. “No?” Nye lit one for himself. “Personally, I can’t see anything in ducks, but I never was much on flowers and nature.”
“Robert stays indoors and works on his articles,” Peggy said. “Sit down, Tommy.” She picked up the duck and put him on her lap. “Sit here, beside us.”
“Oh, no,” Lindquist said. “This is fine.”
He became silent, looking down at Peggy and all the flowers, the grass, the silent duck. A faint breeze moved through the rows of iris behind the tree, purple and white iris. No one spoke. The garden was very cool and quiet. Lindquist sighed.
“What is it?” Peggy said.
“You know, all this reminds me of a poem.” Lindquist rubbed his forehead. “Something by Yeats, I think.”
“Yes, the garden is like that,” Peggy said. “Very much like poetry.”
Lindquist concentrated. “I know!” he said, laughing. “It’s you and Sir Francis, of course. You and Sir Francis sitting there. ‘Leda and the Swan’.”
Peggy frowned. “Do I—”
“The swan was Zeus,” Lindquist said. “Zeus took the shape of a swan to get near Leda while she was bathing. He—uh—made love to her in the shape of a swan. Helen of Troy was born—because of that, you see. The daughter of Zeus and Leda. How does it go … ‘A sudden blow: the great wings beating still above the staggering girl’—”
He stopped. Peggy was staring up at him, her face blazing. Suddenly she leaped up, pushing the duck from her path. She was trembling with anger.
“What is it?” Robert said. “What’s wrong?”
“How dare you!” Peggy said to Lindquist. She turned and walked off quickly.
Robert ran after her, catching hold of her arm. “But what’s the matter? What’s wrong? That’s just poetry!”
She pulled away. “Let me go.”
He had never seen her so angry. Her face had become like ivory, her eyes like two stones. “But Peg—”
She looked up at him. “Robert,” she said, “I am going to have a baby.”
She nodded. “I was going to tell you tonight. He knows.” Her lips curled. “He knows. That’s why he said it. Robert, make him leave! Please make him go!”
Nye nodded mechanically. “Sure, Peg. Sure. But—it’s true? Really true? You’re really going to have a baby?” He put his arms around her. “But that’s wonderful! Sweetheart, that’s marvelous. I never heard anything so marvelous. My golly! For heaven’s sake. It’s the most marvelous thing I ever heard.”
He led her back toward the seat, his arm around her. Suddenly his foot struck something soft, something that leaped and hissed in rage. Sir Francis waddled away, half-flying, his beak snapping in fury.
“Tom!” Robert shouted. “Listen to this. Listen to something. Can I tell him, Peg? Is it all right?”
Sir Francis hissed furiously after him, but in the excitement no one noticed him, not at all.

I can’t help recalling Bartolomeo Ammanati’s Leda and the Swan in the Bargello.

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