The Second Coming

No, its not what you think.  Maybe some other day.

William Butler Yeats wrote his poetic masterpiece, The Second Coming, in 1919.  Written while the world was reeling in recovery from the first World War, many have interpreted the poem as Yeats’ vision of the rise of fascism.  It is a beautifully haunting poem and certainly it calls to mind the evil and horrors of the fascist era.  But to me its eerily relevant today.  Lets consider the poem:

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 Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the 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?

In some parts of the world today it does seem that the centre is indeed having trouble holding.  And far too often, the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.  A blood-dimmed tide may indeed be loosed, to drown the ceremony of innocence.

But, to me, it is the image of the beast waking in the desert, with its blank, pitiless gaze, the body of a lion and the head of a man, its hour come at last, that is the most compelling. 

Slouching toward Bethlehem indeed.

Grace and Peace.