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?
– 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.]