The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats: Experience Whilst Living Through WWI

Pages: 3 (634 words) Published: February 26, 2014


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?

William Butler Yeats, http://www.online-literature.com/donne/780/, 1919

The Second Coming depicts a country’s revelation and reflects Yeat’s experience whilst living through WWI. The poem displays apocalyptic imagery to describe the people’s overthrow of the politically corrupt government. The ‘turning and turning’ of the gyre is a metaphor suggesting the population’s awakening and the spinning motion reflects their instigation to eradicate the superior powers. The repetition of ‘turning’ suggests a slow, yet ominous transition of a people’s beliefs as ‘things fall apart’. The falcon is a metaphor representing the ruling government whom ‘cannot hear the falconer’, the falconer being the population. It suggests the obliviousness of the rulers who are unaware of the people’s infuriation. The imagery that they are falconers suggests their role as hunters and the consequent violent nature of humanity.

‘Mere anarchy’ supports such lack of government control which has a biblical connotation that refers to Satan’s reign on...
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