The second coming with analysis

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)




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“Whenever a catastrophe strikes, it’s incredibly common to see an outburst of apocalyptic mania. One of the most enduring and popular artifacts of such an outburst is “The Second Coming”, a poem written in the early 20’s by Irish poet William Butler Yeats. The inspiring catastrophe in question was, of course, World War I, which had recently ended; but Yeats was also influenced by the failed Easter Rising of 1916, when Irish Nationalists tried to obtain independence from Great Britain. In fact, Yeats wrote a poem, “Easter, 1916”, commemorating the fallen heroes, many of them personal friends, just a few months afterwards. But “The Second Coming” elevates Yeats’ sense of disillusion into a cosmic existentialism foretelling the very end of the world.

The poem is divided into three sections, although many publications divide it into two stanzas. In the first section, Yeats describes the intellectual and cultural atmosphere in Europe after the War, with a ‘falcon’, symbolizing mankind’s animalistic aggression, escaping from the control of its ‘Falconer’, the social codes of civilisation that had recently been blown apart. Without these codes, ‘things fall apart’, causing ‘mere anarchy’ and ‘the blood-dimmed tide’ to become ‘loosed’ upon the world (in this context, ‘mere’ means ‘total’). That these disasters are ‘loosed’ implies that they were always somewhere within us, but had previously been held in check. ‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity’- disillusioned by catastrophe, idealists completely give up, leaving a vacuum for more aggressive and violent people to take over. In less than fifteen years after the poem was published, the Nazi party would take over Germany.”

About Katherine

I like art, poetry,history, literature,cooking,doing nothing to music.And conversation
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