Today’s poem (and social commentary)

From the poem by W.B.  Yeats, “The Second Coming”.

“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…”

In a 1936 letter to a friend, Yeats said that the poem was ‘written some 16 or 17 years ago and foretold what is happening‘, that is, Yeats poetically predicted the rise of a rough beast that manifested as chaos and upheaval in the form of Nazism and Fascism, bringing Europe to its knees.


At the time of  The Second Coming being written, much of the world had grown disillusioned with the turn of the century. From ushering in new and wonderful inventions – the motorcar, small aircraft, and others – it had gone to fray apart. In different parts of the world, revolution brewed and broke out: the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Easter Uprising of 1916, and, of course, the First World War (1914-1918), the most horrific, bloody battle that anyone in Europe had ever seen, totaling a death rate that had since been unmatched in history. With all these events behind, it was no wonder that poets, writers, and artists of all kinds felt as though that there was a great shift in the world happening, and that it would soon come to an end.

The Second Coming was William Butler Yeats‘ ode to the era. Rife with Christian imagery, and pulling much inspiration from apocalyptic writing, Yeats’  The Second Coming tries to put into words what countless people of the time felt: that it was the end of the world as they knew it, and that nothing else would ever be the same again. The First World War had shaken the foundations of knowledge for many, and scarred from the knowledge of the ‘war to end all wars’, they could no longer reconcile themselves with a time before the Great War. This poem is the literary version of that: a lack of ability to think of a time before the war.

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7 Responses to Today’s poem (and social commentary)

  1. auscitizenmom says:

    It’s all a bit overwhelming. I hope we are up for fighting back and winning.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mugzey302 says:

    Yes, as with this poem, I believe we are at a point in time where we will not be able to return to the life we had before. So, as the saying goes, we must “pluck up” our courage to carry on and help those who are struggling with the effort. As the truth comes out about the forces at work in our country that have employed corruption and dark forces, as we come to realize that mainstream media is propaganda, many will be overwhelmed and unable to cope. So, we must pray and consider the mission He gives each of us because THIS IS “one nation under God” and the struggle now is to keep it. May Almighty God bless us with courage and shalom.
    🎶God Bless America🎶

    Liked by 3 people

  3. czarowniczy says:

    Then again, was it as much a prediction as it were a statement of things pretty much stay as they were albeit with more efficient means of continuing the violence?

    If we look back at European history the periods of relative peace, security and precious little individual freedom were far outnumbered by wars, intranational violence/oppression and plain misery. Go back and look at the number of wars fought in Europe in the 19th Century alone and the deaths as related to Europe’s populations, the 1st and 2nd World Wars just a continuation of unresolved issues left over from centuries of intra and extra-continental issues. The major thing with WW1 was that it was a transitional war, it started out as one of the same face-to-face and static wars as all of the rest but ended up as the cradle of modern warfare as technology introduced more efficient ways of killing more people. WW2 was the proving grounds for modern war where Japan but especially Germany perfected new weapons and new tactics while much of the rest of Europe was still using early WW1 equipment and static warfare techniques. Yeats probably saw more clearly what technology had wrought and, poet prophet crying in the wilderness, was trying to point it out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. czarina33 says:

    The biggest problem is that “the worst are full of passionate intensity”…… of how correct their cause is, how they are going to force the changes, make the rest of us come around or be eliminated. I remember that intensity from the late 1960’s radicals and their destructive actions.

    Liked by 3 people

    • stella says:

      That is what caught my attention, along with
      “the best lack all conviction”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • hope2386 says:

        Or is it that a vacuum, created by a moral decline in the “best” made possible the rise of evil? (Just like today.)

        Liked by 2 people

        • czarina33 says:

          Laziness, being overstretched, and being overwhelmed by too much information are some of the reasons. Also, awareness of how little a single person can do without the media behind him/her, and the need for a good leader. Many times in US history there have been excellent leaders with enough people actively behind them to get things done.


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