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Humanities Libertexts

13.6: The Second Coming

  • Page ID
    3218
  • [1]

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre[2]
    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[3]
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,[4]
    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[5]
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,[6]
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem[7] to be born?

    1921

    Contributors


    1. The second coming of Jesus Christ—whom Yeats envisions here as an anti-Christ—on Judgment Day. ↵
    2. A spiral that continues to widen until it collapses. The gyre is Yeats’s symbol of a civilization spiraling out of control, at the end of its 2,000-year cycle. ↵
    3. The spirit of the world. Similar to Carl Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious, it is a storehouse of knowledge shared by all; here, knowledge of a saviour or demon. ↵
    4. The anti-Christ, similar to the Beast of the Apocalypse, described in the “Book of Revelation” in the Christian Bible. ↵
    5. The 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. ↵
    6. Wherein lay the baby Jesus. ↵
    7. Town in the Middle East, famous as the birthplace of Jesus. ↵ Tags recommended by the template: article:topic
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