Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Second Coming

Why The Second Coming is, and is not, about Iraq.

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?
William Butler Yeats
Though this poem has a few memorable phrases, it is them rather than the poem that stay in the mind. It doesn't sing; though I don't suppose in its grimness it should. It is heavy-footed and too visionary. There are too many symbols and they all seem yanked together. Quite different from the exquisite miniatures of Long-legged Fly, which is just as visionary, but set in the opposite civilisational moment, and entirely successful.

(via Pajamas Media)


Anonymous said...

I discuss Yeats' poem at:
My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
Read My Inaugural Address
At = http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman

NoolaBeulah said...

I envy your energy, Alvin. No doubt, mine has been dissipated in dives along the road to Hell. And you've actually read 'Finnegans Wake'?! So that's you and ..., well, not even Jesus, as far as I know. Hope I don't miss your speech when you deliver it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the compliments. I hasten to add that I have not read the Wake. I got most of my Joyce quotes from Norman O. Brown. Joyce quite accurately, amid the hundreds of pages of gibberish, predicted current End Times events.
However hard it may be to believe, within months, if not years, by my hand, we will be in the post apocalyptic world of 'Jericho' on TV! And you will bet to see me deliver my address. Stay tuned!