William Butler Yeats

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

The Second Coming - Poem 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 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?

Form: Ballad

Comments about The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

  • Greg Bell (8/17/2017 8:44:00 PM)

    This poem was written in the aftermath of WW-1, and it has all the harrowing qualities one might expect in the aftermath of 'The War to End All War.' Sad, innit, that we haven't progressed beyond the point where we could consider this a marvelous antique artifact. It's ahead of its time and prescient, just as fresh and true today as ever it was.

    Certainly one of my favorites, I consider it one of the best poems ever written in the English language - really, in ANY language!
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  • (4/23/2016 5:19:00 AM)

    There is nothing like it in the language except whole plays by William Shakespeare. You better read it again.
    The last two lines, so perfect as to be judged miracles. This is us he is talking about. Prophet, seer, priest of the church of love and nature. Arise with him and go to innesfree.
    (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (4/20/2016 5:47:00 PM)

    Intense, intelligent, imaginative- Yeats was indeed a master poet and this poem of his hits the reader like a freight train. And the freight on that train has a lot to do with the evils of war and society and Christ.. The language is actually pretty direct and blunt, but then he throws in a multitude of symbols and visions and prophecies so we're left with nothing that is blunt and straight-forward. We're just not going to get out of this poem without doing some thinking. For me, it is the latter lines that grow extremely nightmarish. That sphinx in the desert. Could he really think that is Jesus? Could whatever it is be good or evil or just plain indifferent about the fate of mankind..
    These lines are the ones that chill me to the bone- they force me to ask myself is this the coming of the Antichrist? . - - - ]
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at laSt,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
    (Report) Reply

  • Enoch John (3/9/2016 3:36:00 PM)

    my favourite Yeats poem. (Report) Reply

  • (1/14/2016 2:52:00 PM)

    .....an interesting write with incredible imagery ★ (Report) Reply

  • (12/30/2015 4:54:00 PM)

    Yeats the master at work! (Report) Reply

  • (9/16/2015 5:46:00 PM)

    This is one of my favourite poems. Yeats is a genius (Report) Reply

  • (6/28/2015 9:56:00 PM)

    I think this describes perfectly our age as if William Yates is living with us. Truly an immortal poem. (Report) Reply

  • (4/22/2015 6:25:00 PM)

    This poem was one of the poems i loved in my early years. Anytime I read it, it brings reminisces of past sweetness. (Report) Reply

  • Xelam Kan™ (3/25/2015 8:33:00 PM)

    Yeats finds something irritates its mind- to be or not to be- slightly a touch of divinr agnosticisn i have felt in this poor pal...form is closely related to modernist. i was young and a bit divine too when first time i read this poem. but the world and its meaning has changed alot, so........ (Report) Reply

  • Xelam Kan™ (3/25/2015 8:30:00 PM)

    Yeats finds something irritates its mind- to be or not to be- slightly a touch of divinr agnosticisn i have felt in this poor pal...form is closely related to modernist. (Report) Reply

  • Xelam Kan™ (3/25/2015 8:27:00 PM)

    doubts in the form of quarries is the sign of growing minds (Report) Reply

  • (3/25/2015 12:35:00 PM)

    The end is near! The end is near! Never considered Yeats an alarmist - this must have been created out of pragmatism... (Report) Reply

  • (3/25/2015 9:35:00 AM)

    I think the contents and meaning of this poem still relevant in the prevailing circumstances of conflict in world and the poor human beings suffer. The poetry though it is written about the chaos of the earlier period it has a continuous relevance in the existing and future world until permanent peace is ensured. (Report) Reply

  • (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

  • (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

  • (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

    Stephen W (9/30/2016 4:18:00 PM)

    An over-simplification. He was horrified by the events of his time, for sure. The first stanza is as relevant today. 'The worst are filled with passionate intensity'. How true of our time, as well as his.

  • (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

  • (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

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Read poems about / on: innocence, sleep, sun, world

Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2001

Poem Edited: Thursday, May 17, 2001

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