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Bee BS: 2nd Coming? With Teeth! (18) RE: BS: 2nd Coming? With Teeth! 10 Oct 08


It has always interested me that, having read the poem long before I read anything of Yeats' reasons for writing it, I internalized an entirely different 'landscape of interpretation', which I cannot shake and don't particularly wish to. I would never have conjectured that the poem laments the fall of the ruling classes, the aristocracy, to revolution and war.

I still think, whatever Yeats' personal motive, it is a beautifully evocative metaphor for any era when people perceive that the future cannot be predicted, that civilizations fall, that foretold divinity may be instead a monster. It is one of my favourites.

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?


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