William Butler Yeats

THE SECOND COMING
Dr. M. Fahmy Raiyah
MODERN POETRY
Modern poetry in English emerged in the late
19th century, and was rooted in the idea that
"traditional" for...
1.

2.

3.

5.

The Main Characteristics of Modern Poetry
As a result of the political changes and two world wars, the sen...
William Butler Yeats
(1865-1939)
The Second Coming
WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Thin...
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
10
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
W...
Historical Background
Yeats wrote "The Second Coming" in 1919:
between 1815, the end of the Napoleonic
Wars, and 1914 (WWI...
The First World War
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
T...
Then, the poem announces that “things fall
apart; the centre cannot hold." Things fall
apart because the centre cannot hol...
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 5
The ceremony of innocence is drow...
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.
The speaker laments that only bad people s...
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! . . . . . . . . . . . .

10

Th...
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sand...
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
The sphinx’ gaze is "pitiless," "blank,"
statuesque, and incapable of having empathy with
other humans. This "Second Comin...
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The vision of the beast contradicts with the
Christian prophesy of the second coming. The
poem presents an opposite view o...
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,...
THEMES
Apocalypse:
"The Second Coming" evokes the Christian
concept of the apocalypse. The poem alludes to the
apocalyptic...
Order and disorder:
The main theme of "The Second Coming" is of a
flood of disorder that drowns existing world order. One
...
STYLE
“The Second Coming” is written in a very rough
iambic pentameter, but the meter is so loose, and the
exceptions so f...
W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"
W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"
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W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

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W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

  1. 1. William Butler Yeats THE SECOND COMING Dr. M. Fahmy Raiyah
  2. 2. MODERN POETRY Modern poetry in English emerged in the late 19th century, and was rooted in the idea that "traditional" forms of art, literature, social organization and daily life had become outdated, and that it was therefore essential to sweep them aside and reinvent culture. It encouraged the idea of re-examination of every aspect of the art of poetry with the goal of finding that which was "holding back" progress, and replacing it with new, and therefore better, ways of reaching the same end.
  3. 3. 1. 2. 3. 5. The Main Characteristics of Modern Poetry As a result of the political changes and two world wars, the sense of confidence in Victorian literature is replaced by the loss of faith, suffering, and uncertainty that modern literature expresses. Modern poetry arose from a reaction against Victorian conservative ideals, which now seemed questionable in the widespread turmoil and suffering of the early 20th century. Modernist poets were concerned with breaking away from established rules, traditions and conventions, and finding a distinctly contemporary mode of expression, through many experiments in form and style. The modern poets employed new forms and styles as fitting the new world view. They wrote in reaction against the emphasis on traditional formalism and ornate diction of the Victorian poetry. The chief concern of modern poets was language and how to use it, and with writing itself. Modern poetry is mostly pessimistic as a result of the widespread suffering due to two world wars and what they viewed as the collapse of society.
  4. 4. William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
  5. 5. The Second Coming 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 5 The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
  6. 6. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. 10 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, 15 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, 20 And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
  7. 7. Historical Background Yeats wrote "The Second Coming" in 1919: between 1815, the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and 1914 (WWI). Europe had enjoyed almost a century without major conflict: this was an exceptionally long period of peace. Then in 1914, the World War, the Irish Easter Rising, the Russian Revolution, the rise of the Communist movement in Germany, and soon after, the rise of Fascism in both Germany and Italy - all followed each other rapidly. Suddenly everybody was fighting in Europe.
  8. 8. The First World War
  9. 9. Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; The poem begins with the image of a falcon flying away from its human master: the falcon, turning in a widening “gyre” (spiral), cannot hear the falconer. The falcon has gotten itself lost by flying too far away. The falconer, who has trained his bird to return, is now unable to summon the bird, which cannot hear the cry to return home. This image of the falcon and falconer can be read as a reference to the collapse of traditional social arrangements in Europe, a metaphor for the encroaching disorder, chaos, and disintegration.
  10. 10. Then, the poem announces that “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold." Things fall apart because the centre cannot hold. The fact that the centers no longer function, but lose hold, signals an ominous message of doom.
  11. 11. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 5 The ceremony of innocence is drowned; Universal dissolution and total - “mere” - anarchy are loosed upon the world. A tide red with blood is released and "loosed" over everything, suggesting massive violent deaths, as in a war. Not merely water, this tide drowns bodies as well as innocence itself- it washes away purity. The Ceremony of Innocence would refer to how things were before the chaos started. Yeats is thinking back to those beautiful and peaceful times of his childhood, and how they are now gone forever.
  12. 12. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
  13. 13. The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. The speaker laments that only bad people seem to have any enthusiasm nowadays. The best are paralyzed by lack of conviction, while the worst are outspoken and fired with enthusiasm, ‘passionate intensity”, and power. The reference here is to the powerful effect of the fiery language of fanaticism and hatred.
  14. 14. The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
  15. 15. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 The poem's narrator now makes some guesses about what, exactly, is happening. He first surmises that "some revelation" is here. When the narrator then supposes that the "Second Coming" is here, he seems to indicate even more strongly that he witnesses an end of the world like the one described in the Bible.
  16. 16. 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, 15 A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. At the start of the second stanza Yeats expects a revelation, saying "Surely a revelation is at hand. "The narrator is then prompted into a vision of his own. His sight becomes "troubled" by an image out of "Spiritus Mundi"-a Latin term that means "the spirit of the world.“ He sees a “shape with lion body and the head of a man.” This Egyptian sphinx stirs in the middle of a desert, while its motion startles nearby birds into angry flight.
  17. 17. A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
  18. 18. The sphinx’ gaze is "pitiless," "blank," statuesque, and incapable of having empathy with other humans. This "Second Coming" doesn’t seem to have at lot in common with the descent of Christ from Heaven as described in the Book of Revelation. The birds’ circling is similar to the gyres of the falcon at the beginning of the poem, but these birds, may be vultures, fly in circles probably because they know something will die soon. The Sphinx seems to be a bad omen, a herald of war and destruction. It is a symbol of the destruction that will befall the world at the end of 2000-year cycle of its history. A new cycle is starting, represented by the coming birth of the sphinx.
  19. 19. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
  20. 20. The vision of the beast contradicts with the Christian prophesy of the second coming. The poem presents an opposite view of the conventional Christian vision of future of the world, a more sinister and more pessimistic.
  21. 21. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, 20 And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? After the vision ends, “darkness drops again.” But from the vision's insight, he has learned something: a rocking cradle , a reference to the birth of Christ, has caused two thousand years of sleep, leading to the present nightmare. This era has come to an end. A "rough beast” is awakening and heading slowly towards Bethlehem to be born. the speaker’s question about what kind of "beast" is about to be born is a sign of confusion and intense expectation of the unknown that might be overwhelmingly horrible.
  22. 22. THEMES Apocalypse: "The Second Coming" evokes the Christian concept of the apocalypse. The poem alludes to the apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible. That the "rough beast" that Yeats imagines is moving toward Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ to be born affiliates it with the second coming of Christ. However, the image of the Sphinx provides an apocalypse very different from the Christian vision of the end of the world.
  23. 23. Order and disorder: The main theme of "The Second Coming" is of a flood of disorder that drowns existing world order. One central image that conveys this theme is the falcon, a bird that flies in ever-widening circles away from its trainer and can no longer hear the falconer's cry. The loss of communication and lack of control are symptoms of the disorder that the poem describes.
  24. 24. STYLE “The Second Coming” is written in a very rough iambic pentameter, but the meter is so loose, and the exceptions so frequent, that it actually seems closer to free verse, which is poetry unorganized by any strict pattern of rhyme or rhythm. But the poem contains few lines where iambic pentameter is solid and clear, like in "The falcon cannot hear the falconer," and "The darkness drops again but now I know." The rhymes in "The Second Coming" are slight. Apart from the two couplets with which the poem opens, there are only coincidental rhymes in the poem, such as “man” and “sun.”
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