A Poem to end a Weekend

February 28, 2016

The Second Coming–An Ode to The Middle East(Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan)

By William Butler 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?
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

2 thoughts on “A Poem to end a Weekend

  1. Conrad, what is your take on the Second Coming by William Butler Yates? Is the Second Coming arriving in Malaysia to sweep the Najib regime away? The gyre is widening and the Malaysian center cannot hold. Will we bear witness to the appearance of the mythical Spinx? And the Falcon will not be returning to the Falconer. –Din Merican

  2. The Second Coming like all of Yeat’s Apocrypha, – that’s how I view his works – is steeped in the kind of mysticism , I mean “real” mysticism, the kind where you can’t tell where the Symbolism begins and Enlightenment ends. I’m more inclined to the interpretation of European anomie and the poem’s fearful pondering (as opposed to warning) of what comes next.

    Which I suppose is applicable in the Malaysian context. We are talking about an erosion of values, not only amongst the Ruling Class but the general population. Yeats, would approve of the almost occultist nature of our political malaise ,the RAHMAN prophecy, the political language which evokes Pharaoh-like imagery etc.

    Take this bit for instance :

    “Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.”

    The theme of the fist line is “revelation” as Truth while the second line, “at hand” suggest Consequence. “Surely” – about time [meaning what]…gyre, meaning cyclical.

    In other words, we are slave to Chronos, we can’t hide from the truth and we all have it coming.

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