‘The Second Coming’, by W. B. Yeats

W.B. Yeats on his deathbed, 1939 by Georgie Hyde-LeesTurning 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?

– W. B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’, in The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats, Vol. 1: The Poems (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 187.

[Notes: Penned 1919, in the aftermath of WWI, ‘The Second Coming’ was originally titled ‘The Second Birth’. The image, taken by Yeats’s wife Georgie Hyde-Lees, depicts Yeats on his deathbed in 1939.]

One comment

  1. But what if the “second coming” has already occurred and does it have to be Christian?
    Would Christians even recognize the event, especially as there are now well over 35,000 different Christian denominations, sects and sub-sects.
    All of the major faith traditions have an expectation or intuition that a final and all-completing Divine Revelation will occur some time in the future.
    If you google the title The Promised God-Man Is Here you will find that this collective intutition and longing has already occurred – the beezone item is particularly good.
    And what if this Promised God-Man actually wrote an auto-biography describing in great detail the Process of His Bodily Incarnation right down to the toes. See The Knee of Listening.
    And what if He spent 36 year patiently explaining via millions of spoken words and countless thousands of published words, and via His extraordinary Divine Image Art (see Daplastique) how human beings can respond to and participate in His extraordinary Divine Revelation.
    Pointing out that collectively humankind altogether IS itself the vehicle for the appearance of the Avatar. Summarized in the statement “my devotees (and thus potentially all of humankind) are/is the God I have come to Serve”


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