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Posted by on Aug 28, 2007

The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats

In keeping with this concept of returning to the base (as in my previous post), I give you The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats, who prophesied about this gyre concept. Yeats was writing in response to the changes at the beginning of the 20th century. The world must have seemed turned on its head; people of this day and age recognize change as the only constant in the world. People of Yeats’ generation viewed as an aberration.

By the way, Chinua Achebe took the title for his book “Things Fall Apart” from this poem.

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 Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the 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?
1920

I love the mention of that rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be born; it is prophetic, but it is extremely reluctant. The modern age has never been described better, albeit pessimistically.

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