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“Their Ethiop wives—sleek wineskins of black silk, Jellied and huge from drinking asses’ milk Through years of tropical idleness, to pray For offspring (whom he ever sent away With prayers unanswered, lest their ebon race Might breed and blacken the earth’s comely face.”
? Aldous Huxley, Leda
Though he gained recognition for his later essays and novels, Aldous Huxley started his writing career as a poet. Published in 1920, Leda is his fourth compilation of poetry. It begins with the passionate and slightly erotic poem "Leda", which recalls the love affair between Queen Leda, the mother of Helen of Troy, and her swan, Zeus in disguise. Some short poems follow. The book ends with two long sections. The first, "Beauty," is a short collection of vignettes where the author reflects on the concept of beauty through an ideal model of physical desire, Helen of Troy. The second, "Soles Occidere et Redire Possunt," or "Suns Can Set, and Suns Can Rise Again," is another long poem that reflects a day in the life of John Ridley, a deceased friend of Huxley's, who was mentally challenged throughout his entire life.
Author Aldous Huxley was an English writer and philosopher. He wrote nearly fifty books, both novels and non-fiction works—as well as wide-ranging essays, narratives, and poems.
Born into the prominent Huxley family, he graduated from Oxford, with an undergraduate degree in English literature. Early in his career, he published short stories and poetry and edited the literary magazine Oxford Poetry, before going on to publish travel writing, satire, and screenplays. Huxley spent the latter part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death. By the end of his life, Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the foremost intellectuals of his time.