Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday Poetry Slam -- The Second Coming

The Second Coming
by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) (also his second appearance here)

    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?
The Second Coming is an antiwar poem written by Yeats after the end of the First World War. It is considered a major work or Modernist Poetry, and you'll not that the  last line springboards into a book title, Slouching Towards Bethlemem , a 1958 collection of essays  by the excellent stylist (and one of my favorite authors), Joan Didion, which I highly recommend that you read as well.

Even though it was written nearly 100 year ago, the poem still retains a profound resonance to the events of this century: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity..."

This is one my favorite poems.