Yeats’ magnificent poem, “The Second Coming” –-
QUESTION AND QUOTATION
Suppose you have been assigned Yeats’ magnificent poem, “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.
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?
There are many lines in the poem that call for critical interpretation. Let’s suppose we go with the lines that end the first stanza (The best lack all…)—We might craft our question like so:
At the end of the first stanza of Yeat’s “The Second Coming,” he writes, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity” (7,8). Does Yeats give any indication as to who exactly “the best” and “the worst” are? What other lines in the poem might lend a clue as to which sides of this spiritual war Yeats attributes good and evil to?
If a classmate had written this question and the question intrigues you, you would then choose it to write your 500 word response for the second part of the forum. Please note, also, the form with which the lines of the poem are cited. We use MLA citation in this class and I will expect you to provide citations whenever and wherever possible and necessary.