The Second Coming, by William Butler Yeats and Once by the Pacific, by Robert Frost: Apocalyptic Views

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Frost and Yeats Apocalypse

“The Second Coming,” by William Butler Yeats, is a lyrical poem of twenty-two lines written in a style somewhat similar to iambic pentameter. The meter however is very irregular, and it is close to the way free verse is written. Yeats was great at using imagery in “The Second Coming” to truly give the reader a great sense of anarchy in all of society and fear of what may happen. A falcon is “turning in a widening gyre” or spiral, and “cannot hear the falconer” (1-2). This brings strong images of surrounding chaos. “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” (3-4). These lines suggest that society is falling apart. There could be much confusion in society and what may be happening to the world. In it, the “best lack all conviction,” which means the good part of society cannot stop what is happening (7). The dark side of society is “full of passionate intensity” which causes the chaos (8). This is a society that is, in Yeats image, out of control and headed toward self-destruction. Change is happening, as Yeats suggests, “surely the Second Coming is at hand” (10). Yeats uses “the Second Coming” (11) and “Spiritus Mundi” to refer to the overall mindset of society. This idea is troubling to Yeats because he imagines a horrific creature “with lion body and the head of a man / A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun” (14-15). This creature slowly moves forward followed by “the indignant desert birds” waiting for the creature to die or for the death that will come from this creature (17). This monster has taken the place of Christ for the arising of the Second Coming. In the final lines of the poem Yeats writes “The beast is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born” (22). Here Yeats may have believed that the apocalypse was near and change was at hand. There was going to have to be change in society and change in the overall mindset of mankind because of the terrifying “image of Spirits Mundi” (12)....
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