Sunday, March 25, 2007

"The Second Coming"--William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center 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?

-- William Butler Yeats, January 1919

Thanks, Harriet!

The good news is that things don't seem to have got much worse, or closer to Armageddon, than they were in Yeats' day.

The bad news is that they haven't got any better, either.

I find this poem to be the stuff of nightmares.

I'm not much of poetry analysis, for a couple of reasons: a) I'm not much good at it, and b) I think poems should be felt, rather than analyzed line by line. Having said that, there are a couple that stand out in this one:

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

This is what is happening now, among opinion-makers in this country. The "best," those who hold to the ideals of our forefathers and of humanitarians, are so turned off by the "Passionate intensity" of the fundamentalists that they attempt to communicate another way. Trouble is, the "passionate intensity" is what gets people to listen.

No wonder Yeats wanted to go to Innisfree!


  1. Well, as I am still awake and aware in California, I will say that you are on a roll Verio. It's 1105peeem here and I am listening to classical music with my cat and parrot, who also enjoy it.

    I hope that this poetry will bring out some ranters ronni. It is a gripping message in the midst of our squalor. moi pee ess now it is 11:31 pee em

  2. Well, it took THAT a while to go through!