W. B. Yeats’s The Second Coming.

This is one of most haunting and disturbing poems ever written by the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. While it is a far from comforting poem, it is a poem that rewards every reading. 

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 Spiritus 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.
What rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards
Bethlehem to be born?

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Wikipedia on The Second Coming 

The Second Coming is a poem by William Butler Yeats first printed in The Dial (November 1920) and afterwards included in his 1921 verse collection Michael Robartes and the Dancer. The poem uses religious symbolism to illustrate Yeats’ anguish over the apparent decline of Europe’s ruling class, and his occult belief that Western civilization (if not the whole world) was nearing the terminal point of a 2000-year historical cycle…………….. 

The discussion that follows should not be read until the poem has been read, and maybe even memorised.

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