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References in fiction to the poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats.

Anime and Manga

  • Sailor Moon: Act 39 of the Dream arc sees Hotaru reciting lines of Yeats' poem shortly before and during her own reawakening as the senshi of destruction, complete with spontaneous aging.

Comics

  • There is a Batman miniseries titled The Widening Gyre, by Kevin Smith.
  • Peter David quotes the poem in Incredible Hulk #425.
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  • V for Vendetta naturally contains references to the poem.
  • Beast quotes it in X-Factor #70, also by Peter David. Colossus thinks it's from Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov ("it sounded Russian").

Film - Live Action

  • A deleted scene from Nixon has CIA Director Richard Helms quote the first stanza and final lines to Nixon during a heated passive-aggressive standoff in the former's office, after musing about death.

Literature

  • American Gods: The New Gods tend to speak in cliches, so it's not surprising that one of them had the whole damn poem memorized.
  • Parodied by eccentric bum Bert Nix in The Big U by Neal Stephenson.
  • Gerald Astor's history book, A Blood-Dimmed Tide: The Battle of the Bulge by the Men Who Fought It.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden alludes to the poem during his Badass Boast at the end of Storm Front. "The world is getting weirder. Darker every single day. Things are spinning around faster and faster, and threatening to go completely awry. Falcons and falconers. The center cannot hold..."
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  • The last line of Good Omens describes the Anti Anti Christ as "slouching hopefully towards Tadfield".
  • Recited by the poet Martin Silenus in Hyperion. He doesn't take it too seriously.
  • The second novel in Rennie Airth's John Madden mystery series is entitled The Blood-Dimmed Tide.
  • Woody Allen titled one of his books Mere Anarchy.
  • Joan Didion titled one of her books Slouching Towards Bethlehem.
  • Stephen King's The Stand: Quoted by Starkey, a government employee, after a human-made virus, which will certainly destroy civilization, escapes. "The beast is on its way. It's on its way, and it's a good deal rougher than that fellow Yeets ever could have imagined. Things are falling apart. The job is to hold as much as we can for as long as we can."
  • In The Star of the Guardians, "The center cannot hold" is the activation code for a doomsday device called a "space-rotation bomb," which is appropriate for something that creates a Negative Space Wedgie.
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  • Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe's best known work.
  • One of Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 novels is called The Center Cannot Hold.
  • The Widening Gyre, a Robert B. Parker novel about political corruption.

Live-Action TV

  • Andromeda: The first season finale is called "Its Hour Come 'Round At Last". Season 2 gives us "The Widening Gyre" and "Pitiless as the Sun".
  • Angel: An episode entitled "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" forebodes the arrival of a demon known as The Beast, who appears to be bringing some kind of Apocalypse.
  • G'Kar quotes the poem in Babylon 5, equating the escalating prelude to the Shadow War to things falling apart.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003). In "The Plan", the nonsense babbled by a Hybrid as the Cylons are about to nuke the 12 Colonies includes the line, "The centre holds; the falcon hears the falconer" (an inversion of the actual line). Presumably a statement that, for the Cylons at least, their plan is coming together, as opposed to things falling apart (which happens later on).
  • Heroes: One episode replaced the standard episode-ending Mohinder Fauxlosophic Narration with him reciting the poem in whole, which was a vast improvement.
  • In The Librarians, the Serpent Brotherhood sport snake tattoos incorporating the lines "The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned;", albeit in Latin. Recognizing the quotation (not to mention being able to read it in the first place) provides Jacob Stone with an Establishing Character Moment proving that despite looking and sounding like a roughneck, he is highly educated and very observant.
  • Sons of Anarchy: Two episodes in season 3 are titled "Turning and Turning" and "The Widening Gyre". Appropriately, given the political context in which the poem was written, this season heavily featured the True IRA and almost every episode was set at least partially in Belfast.

Music

  • Black Metal band Anaal Nathrakh have a song entitled "The Blood-Dimmed Tide" which appears on their 2012 album Vanitas.
  • Lou Reed opens his 1978 live album Take No Prisoners with this:
    I wanna read a quote from Yates. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity" - now you figure out where I'm at!

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