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; right about now!
He refers to the people and politics of the world as
'the falcon that no longer hears the falconer.'
The result of this:
'things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.'
The center of the world, the Divine Principle, has been forgotten,
and in that forgetting, people have become mad:
‘the worst are full of passionate intensity
and the best lack all conviction.’
We are adrift in the shifting winds of opinion
Yeats suggests that as a result of all of this:
‘mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’
The word- 'mere.' yields a poor opinion of anarchy;
And what is anarchy?
Absence of authority? Every man for himself?
Non-recognition of principle?
No such thing as Truth?
ones own opinion against another's.
This is the hell we have arrived at . . .
I believe 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 he described it with mythic specificity.
These are the underlying roots
that nourish the brances of these tales and stories
I do not know for sure,
but that time, as Yeats wrote about
and as far as I can see,
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 ' foreboding sense' is what moves me to write and tell stories
stories that were told to me and the few I helped to write.
Regarding the times;
Perhaps it has always been this way;
'some rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem'
but either way,
I hope these stories may do some good . . .
- Peter Malakoff