Post #11: A response to: “The Second Coming” by William Yeats

 “The Second Coming” (1921)
William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center 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
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?

The Second Coming

The Second Coming

• What is the meaning of the phrase “Things Fall Apart” within Yeats’ poem?
          In Yeats’ poem, the phrase “Things Fall Apart” means that the a certain group of people is falling apart. The group cannot hold together as one and is the people within the group are scattering outwards to follow their own beliefs. For example, the group of people can be a representation of people today. The younger and newer generation and their new beliefs and longings can be what cause things to fall apart by creating a gap between the older and newer generations. The falconer can represent the older generation while the falcon can be represented by the younger generation.
• What does the Second Coming refer to in general?
          In general, the second coming refers to the promised return of Christ on Doomsday, the end of the world.
• What does the Second Coming refer to in Yeats’ poem?
          In Yeats’ poem, the seconding coming refers to the coming of an unwanted force or being, instead of the promised return of Christ. In the poem, the arrival of the “rough best” refers to the second coming which occurs after things falls apart. The sphinx, who was originally asleep, arises.  In the poem, the “rough beast” is portrayed as an ominous force.
• As you read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, note how the novel both takes up and changes Yeats’ version of the Second Coming. Who or what in the novel represents a “rough beast” that “slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
          The novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe takes up and changes Yeats’ version of the Second Coming. In the novel, Ummofia, an African Civilization is disrupted by the arrival of the Christian missionaries from Europe. In the novel, the white Christian missionaries represent the “rough beast” that “slouches toward Bethlehem to be born” from the poem.


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