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The Second Coming

By Dick Myers
Posted: 11/06/2022

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?



This poem was written shortly after the end of what is known as the First World War, which is largely an arrogant exaggeration for an event centered in Europe. It was a terrible war that took generations of young men away from Europe. It was followed shortly by another conflagration more deserving of the description. Some have suggested that Yeats somehow might have foreseen WWII. Perhaps, but he certainly could not have foreseen the times we are experiencing today. He beautifully expressed a dread about the future which many of us are feeling today.

These words, written when my parents were children, often come into my mind as I am watching or thinking about the news of the day. I feel some comfort from hearing them resonate in my mind. But it doesn’t lessen my dread.

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