William Butler Yeats

(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

The Second Coming


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 i{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?

Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2001
Edited: Thursday, May 17, 2001

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  • Byron Barsamian (7/30/2013 2:26:00 AM)

    The slowly approaching arrival of the anti christ which is linked to chaos and more chaos. The markets and the world as we know it will collapse, how what where when why know one knows for sure (Report) Reply

  • Ed Dalida (10/23/2012 4:45:00 AM)

    People on the internet make it sound so complex. I think it's basically this. Chaos has come, it has fallen over the world and people are turning against each other and themselves. But Yeats has this hope. The hope of a brighter, more aware, less destructive future. However, that vision of a 'second coming' has an undertone of darkness and fear. The simple fear of the unknown, the uncertainty that carries. To me it's not so much of a prophecy but a reassurance to himself. He's practically begging the forces that be that there will be a better future because the present that he described in his first verse and the internal fear he has is beginning to be overwhelming. (Report) Reply

  • Eric Stashak (2/19/2010 4:27:00 AM)

    no, denvor, its not. the second coming is a historical figure, a polarity of christ. for yeats, everything runs on double gyres, a cyclical interpretation of history, metaphysics, and religion. he saw christ as one end of the spectrum, and within each end is contained the seed of it's opposite. christ is the lamb and the great beast described in the poem will be the contention of all christ symbolizes focused in the form of a historical figure. (Report) Reply

  • Denvor Fernandez (2/3/2009 5:28:00 AM)

    This poem is about the second coming of Christ as predicted by the book of revelations in the Bible.This poem written in 1920 after the first world war and the russian revolution shows the poets anti-marxist stand. (Report) Reply

  • Ananiya Alick Ponje (11/27/2008 3:14:00 AM)

    this is really a good poem. it provokes hard hearts about thier lives. to some extend it appears to explore the idea of the second rule of..... it is filled with vivid images like that of a falcon flying into the outer space where the falconer catch it anymore. it is about the confusion that will be there in the last days? or it is about the confusion that is already there these days. it is perfect tool of sharpening our understanding of this world (Report) Reply

  • Jake Carter (4/5/2008 1:07:00 AM)

    I really like this poem and I have chosen it to write a poetry explication in my english class. If anyone has any specific things I should focus on please mention it in your comments. I would much appreciate it thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Mary Gordley (1/15/2008 3:52:00 PM)

    Admiral in so many ways. The lines which I find hold most impact:

    'The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.'

    It seems to me those two lines ring truer today than ever. (Report) Reply

  • Patrick McFarland (12/10/2007 10:04:00 PM)

    This is (as far as I am concerned) the best poem ever written. Yeats understood time, the world and man's place in it better than any poet before or since. (Report) Reply

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