Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Poetry: The Second Coming

This poem by Yeats is often quoted but as often debated.  Some say that it is a reflection of his occultist visions.  Others say it is an indictment of his age.  I can see someone have a pro or anti Christian interpretation of his words; it is that vague.

To me, the poem is about fallen human nature.  When the falcon does not hear the falconer, as when we do not hear Christ, the center does not hold.  Christianity is the most empowering, redemptive, civilizing force on the planet.  But our fallen human nature gnaws at us through our temptations.

If we live in a culture that choose to make vice a virtue, then innocence will be drowned and the spirit of the world will be one of chaos and destruction.  But that is only if we let it.  So we need to listen to the falconer before the widening gyre opens into nothingness.

The Second Coming
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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