8 July 2008
“The Second Coming”
A Poem by William Butler Yeats
William Yeats’ poem, titled “The Second Coming,” caught my attention because of its countless allusions to the Christian faith and its focus on the duality between good and evil. I chose this poem because it confirms the Catholic beliefs that I grew up with. It revives my connection to the faith and highlights the peace and goodness that comes with the presence of God.
The title of the poem, “The Second Coming” brings forth the main idea of the poet. He wants to create an image of the entrance of religion in an environment that has lived with the presence of chaos and evil. This chaos comes forth in the first stanza and even in the first line where Yeats starts by stating, “Turning and turning into the widening gyre ”. This and other lines such as “the center cannot hold” and “anarchy is loosed upon the world”, exemplifies the time before the presence of religion and the lifestyle of its people. The movement that comes with the words “turning” and “loosed” show how there is no peace and tranquility. The people of this time have no orientation in their lives, as seen in the line, “the falcon cannot hear the falconer.” This demonstrates how there is an absence of God, meaning an absence of love and goodness in the world. As the poem progresses, Yeats is able to insert allusions to the Christian faith. He continues with his idea of evil and desperateness in the world and shows its contrast with the good of religion in the phrase, “the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” This phrase is very significant impact on the reader because of its harsh image of the elimination of all innocence and good. The words ceremony and drowned provide an allusion to the baptism, a ceremony that purifies the soul. In the closing line of the first stanza, he includes the line; “The best lack all convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” This further develops society...