The Second Coming

 

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

 

 

 

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? 

 

 

The ‘gyre’ that Yeats speaks of in this poem is a historical cycle of 2000 years

that would begin in the second millennium after the birth of Christ.

He refers to the people and politics of the world as 'the falcon that no longer hears the falconer, things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.' 

The center of this world, the Divine Principle  has been forgotten, 

but in that forgetting, people ahve become mad -

 ‘the worst are full of passionate intensity

and the best lack all conviction.’ 

I am reminded of  Lao Tzu:

"When true love is lost, Morality and Good Works arise."

 

Yeats suggests that as a result of this: ‘mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’ 

 

Yeats did not know specifically what he was referring to,

he did not know the names of the actors,

the roles they played, the exact issues or politics of the times, the country or the moment;  

but he sensed something and described it with mythic specificity.

 

What role should we play in such a period?

What is the role of a writer and teacher?

What is my role?

These underlying inquiries

lie beneath the tales and stories

I tell here . . .

 

I do not know for sure, 

but that time, as far as I can see, has come

and in awe, I feel the subtle warning and stirrings of something great;

I too sense'Surely some revelation is at hand.'

'Surely the Second Coming is at hand.'   

and that is part of what moves me to write and tell stories

that were given to me and a few I helped to write.

 

Regarding the times:

Perhaps it has always been this way;

'some rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem'

 

Perhaps not

 

but either way

 

I hope these stories may do some good

 

 

 

- Peter Malakoff