Thursday, May 17, 2001

The Second Coming Comments

Rating: 4.9

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,

...

William Butler Yeats
COMMENTS
Michael Walker 30 June 2020

A critical, but devastating poem about what Yeats made of the modern world. There is anarchy and needless bloodshed, and no hope of a Second Coming of Jesus. Instead: ' And what rough beast, its hour come at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? ' This is largely what I see now in the world.

0 0 Reply
Chinedu Dike 08 November 2019

A free flight of creativity on winged immagination. An awesome creation by an intricate and a sober mind.

2 2 Reply
Michael Walker 27 July 2019

This is definitely one of Yeats' best poems. It is pessimistic but visionary. 'And what rough beast.../Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? ' Great ending.

2 2 Reply
Spock The Vegan 14 July 2019

Autoplay takes all the feeling out of the poem - just like my English teacher in High School made us do. What nonsense!

1 1 Reply
albert scott 04 May 2019

and the number was 666

1 1 Reply
Bhagabat Prasad Hotta 12 November 2018

So nice poem.............Best poem......So amazing thought.........Beautiful....

1 2 Reply
Bhagabat Prasad Hotta 12 November 2018

So nice poem.............Best poem......So amazing thought.........

1 2 Reply
Nicholas Power 04 October 2018

a typo in line twelve (italics?) and in the second 'laSt' line

2 1 Reply
Larry L. Meyer 07 August 2018

Willie had Trump in Mind.

4 7 Reply
G. Strazzanti 25 July 2018

Autoplay version of these poems is an attempt to kill them. I would send you a record if only I had a way to do that. At least remove those soul lacking voice tracks and simply leave the majestic words.

3 1 Reply

The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep beautiful thoughts

2 1 Reply
Russ Weiss 14 April 2018

A PERFECT incantatory poem. Definitely has to be read aloud. Perhaps, the source of more allusions in titles of books, editorials, etc. than any other modern poem- obviously not a positive commentary on modern times.

3 1 Reply
Chinedu Dike 03 April 2018

Fine and lofty verse. Free flight of creativity on winged imagination. A masterful piece of poetry.

1 1 Reply
Abhimanyu Kumar.s 24 November 2017

There is no replacement for first 4 lines. Truly a great visionary poem.

1 1 Reply
Bernard Wenker 29 August 2017

The poem was composed in 1939, when WWII was gathering steam. In that sense, I agree with Greg- it IS prescient. In the opening image, the falcon (animal nature, predator) is no longer controlled by the falconer (human, royalty, animal restrainer) has lost control. Yeats saw history, among other things, as cyclical, imaged as gyres whose points touch. In the context of the poem, the dominance of Christianity, of Western Civilization, which, Yeats believes, reached its peak around the 11th century (the peak of Byzantine unity of being) , has lost its intellectual, moral and ethical core.20 centuries- 10 rising to a peak,10 falling to its doom. In its place, a new historical cycle begins with the Sphinx- the intellect of a human with the body of the king of the jungle- consummating (shudder in the loins) with an unidentified creature that, impregnated, slouches toward Bethlehem to give birth to a rough beast. This beast will be the personification of the new historical cycle, bringing anarchy and the blood-dimmed tide. I don't think Yeats would have named this beast the Antichrist; he was not, after all, a Christian. But the birth of the beast, the death and destruction it will bring to fruition communicate a striking irony for Christians, for whom The Second Coming of Christ is a time of salvation and rebirth.

7 4 Reply
Greg Bell 17 August 2017

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!

4 2 Reply
Ray Burleigh 23 April 2016

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.

4 3 Reply
Susan Williams 20 April 2016

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?

12 2 Reply
Malfleur 14 November 2017

That sphinx in the desert? Ozymandias?

0 0 Reply
Enoch John 09 March 2016

my favourite Yeats poem.

6 2 Reply
* Sunprincess * 14 January 2016

.....an interesting write with incredible imagery ?

4 1 Reply