Thursday, November 10, 2016

Poem for Thursday

For some reason, bits of this poem were going through my mind yesterday, and I decided to revisit it. It is in the public domain, but this specific version comes from Poem of the Week, where you will find some additional notes on it. I offer no interpretation of  it. I read it a long time ago, when it gave the title to a collection of essays by Joan Didion. It is a famous poem, perhaps prophetic, though prophetic of what, I couldn't say. Poem of the Week says that Yeats wrote it in the aftermath of WWI.


    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: a waste of desert sand;
    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
    Wind 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

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