Sunday, November 25, 2007

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) - The Second Coming

On this Last Sunday of the Church Year (Sunday of the Fulfillment) I am reminded of a favorite and perplexing poem by Yeats, The Second Coming. This poem means many things to many people -- that's what I love most about poetry --, but it seems to describe this age very well. Today I am especially moved by the relevancy of these words: The ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

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 Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the 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?

1 comment:

Pastor Beisel said...

I remember studying this poem in my English lit classes in college. Very fascinating.