“The Second Coming”, by W.B. Yeats

This poem, written by Irish poet W.B. Yeats in 1919, is a rather dark view of a world that he felt was failing. I think it holds significant relevance today. While it holds spiritual imagery, it is not written as a “Christian” poem.

Pay attention to his imagery related to the problem, especially in the first verse: “the falcon cannot hear the falconer”, “the centre cannot hold”, and “the best lack all conviction…”.

I pray that, today, godly men and women would have conviction and be filled with passionate intensity.

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?

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