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Posted by on Jan 20, 2008

The Second Coming and Cleansing

In an effort to cleanse myself from that last post (however fun it was), I give you Yeats’ The Second Coming. This was one of most significant poems, and one of his latest, a real illustration of his latter maturity and depth of vision. The mention of this beast slouching is perfect for entry into a reluctant age.

It has a few lines of merit, especially those used elsewhere. Things Fall Apart? The worst of full of passionate intensity? The falcon cannot hear the falconer? All classics.

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?

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