“The second coming” by W.B.Yeats

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 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?

People have interpreted the poem in different ways ,trying to understand the basic theme .Despite the difficulty in putting together what Yeats would possibly have meant, the poem continues to be popular among scholars as well as ordinary folk.That Yeats is talking about the Messiah coming out of the chaos in order to straighten it out is fairly clear but the confusion is why the Second Coming refers to the beast from the sandy desert and if it represents evil why it is moving towards Bethlehem .The lines are very epigrammatic: “The best lack all conviction; the worst are full of passionate intensity”. It is as though Yeats has predicted the wave of terrorism that has drowned the sanity of the present world. Yeats had a deep interest in Hinduism which is what seems to account for the belief that whenever there is chaos thee will emerge a Messiah out of the disorder. The Gita says that whenever the world is weighed down by the burden of mankind’s sins God will take a human form and appear to set the world in order.


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