THE SECOND COMING . . . W.B. Yeats . . . an anthem to our age


Almost a hundred years ago the Irish poet William Butler Yeats published a poem  that  references Armageddon and political upheaval.   It is a message of hope.  It is a message of warning.


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 Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
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
Wind 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?

(GYRE:  A gyre is a spiral that expands outward as it goes up.  Yeats used the image of gyres to describe the motion of history towards chaos and instability.)

(William Butler Yeats   1865-1939 –   Irish poet, dramatist, and prose writer.  Yeats is widely considered one of the greatest English-language poets of the 20th Century.)

(Falcon Photograph  Smithsonian Magazine)



10 thoughts on “THE SECOND COMING . . . W.B. Yeats . . . an anthem to our age

  1. It does feel that way sometimes, a feeling that seems to have been running through history. Not sure if that’s comforting or not, but it just is. Seems weird to see after that, but have a happy weekend.


  2. This has been one of my favorite poems since high school. And you’re right–the time is upon us again. We never seem to learn from history. Yeats wrote some marvelous poems, didn’t he.

    • Dear Jo Nell. We join you in hoping 2018 will be a more positive year. Oh good! You
      noticed I change my header on a regular basis. Once I discovered how to do Iv’e had fun with it. The dahlias are in two vintage soup tureens. We had a killer frost the other day and Lar cut all the flowers and dug up the roots and put the roots to bed for the winter. These are the last of the flowers in the garden. Cheers Virginia

      • Yes, I did not know if it was one of those that random headers came up or you could just change them. They are always beautiful. Sounds like a lot of work to cut and dig up roots for the winter but your results are always lovely. It got down to a low of 50 for one night and now it is back into the 80s and 90s. But i don’t have many flowers at all so I appreciate yours.

    • Resa, dear girl, I hope you had a glorious Christmas. How are you celebrating New Year’s Eve? We’re spending quietly with Lar’s brother and his wife, plus a superb bottle of champagne. Many happy thoughts for a good 2018. XXXOOOO Virginia

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