Turning and turning in the widening gyre
William Butler Yeats
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: a waste of desert sand;
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
Wind 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?
' most famous poem. It is NOT about the Apocalypse
and the second coming of Christ
— rather, it's a window in Yeats's own cosmology and worldview, predicting the fall of the Christian world order and the rising of a new empire. It was written just after World War One
, the failed Irish Rising (in which Yeats lost several close friends), and the Russian Revolution, which probably explains a lot
. Incidentally, it's considered one of Yeats' best works and is referenced endlessly
in all forms of pop culture.
Widely considered one of the most definitive examples of Modernist poetry.
To some extent the singular popularity of this poem is a case Germans Love David Hasselhoff
; in Ireland itself it is not generally considered more notable than any of Yeats' other poems. Tellingly, the centerpiece of the National Library of Ireland W.B. Yeats exhibit goes with the locally better known 'Lake Isle of Inishfree' instead.
Not to be confused with The Second Coming
Alluded to by: