William Butler Yeats was the prominent Irish poet during the early 20th Century. Famous for his poems and plays, he was equally famous for his odd lifestyle centered around unrequited love, the remarkably usual (expected) passion of the poetic damned, the magical and the occult, imagery, innuendo, metaphors and rather intense meanings "behind the lines" of many of his poetic works.
In addition to a number of Modern Classics, one of which is featured here, Yeats played a role in the defining moments of Modernism during the early part of the 20th century through his collaborative work and employment of a certain Ezra Pound as his secretary back then. Pound, being a master manipulator, was an artistic and creative influence on Yeats at this time, with remarkable results.
This classic by Yeats was written around the time of Pound. Filled with imagery and hidden meaning, this was the stuff of Yeats fans around the world. Sort of a like a turn of the century John Lennon (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds), his fans were prone to hours of analyzation.
No matter; it's a good poem, probably a GREAT poem, and there are plenty of essays about it - all interesting.
The Second Coming
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?