Monday, July 17, 2006

The Prophetic William Butler Yeats

The events of this last week in the middle east have left a line from a poem read long ago resonating in my head...I keep thinking "Things fall Apart, the centre cannot hold..." Well I looked the poem up and was pretty astonished with what I read...

The Second Coming by 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
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?


  1. Very apropos.

    I think I found the beast mentioned in that poem:

  2. The line I really found most poignant and sad, and clearly reflected in our times was "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. Look at the world around you, people who advocate peace are largely silent, yet those who are waging wars today are all religious fundamentalists, or at the very least (with regard to Americans) using fundamentalism and hatred of OTHER fundamentalism as a ruse to cover greed and economic interests. Jimmy Carter has it right, fundamentalism, both religious and political, is making our world a much less safe place.