This essay aims to talk about one of the most famous poems of W.B. Yeats, which goes by the name of "The Second Coming". Written shortly after the end of World War I in 1919, it presents a highly cryptic and powerful solution to the Christian notion of the Second Coming: the promised return of Jesus to earth as a rescuer who proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven. The opening stroke of the poem portrays a realm of chaos, confusion and suffering. In the second verse, the native speaker imagines that a vision of the future is received. However, this view replaces the heroic return of Jesus with a hideous animal that appears to become. With its distinct imagery and vivid description of society's collapse, "The Second Coming" is also one of Yeats's most quoted poems.
"The Second Coming" paints a terrifying apocalyptic picture of the loss of control and inclination of man to violence and chaos in the speaker's nightmare. Surreal pictures rush densely and quickly at the reader, producing an unrestful mood that proposes a destructive universe. However, "The Second Coming," with all of its symbolic intricacy, has a pretty straightforward message: it essentially forecasts that humanity's time is through and that civilization is going to be unfinished, as we know. Right after World War I, Yeats composed this poem, a worldwide disaster that killed millions. Perhaps it is unsurprising, then, that the poem paints a bleak picture of humanity, suggesting that civilization's sense of progress and order is only an illusion. In view of the foregoing, the initial difficult images of the stanza become more meaningful. The "falcon," the representative of the endeavour of humankind to dominate his universe, lost its "falcon" in the "gyre" (the gyre is an image Yeats uses to symbolize grand, sweeping historical movements as a kind of spiral). These initial sentences may indicate that contemporary society isolated humans from nature (represented here by the falcon). In any event, it can be seen that whatever link the symbolic falcon was connected to, and the human world is now turning into pandemonium.
Yeats believed was the "Spiritus Mundi" described in the poem as the collective unconscious of the universe from which the poet gained knowledge. Therefore, this view of the beast suggests a change to "anarchy" worldwide, while the collective intellect of humanity allows morals to be carried away. In fact, the poem implies that although humanity may seem to have made progress over the previous "twenty centuries," through apparently rising knowledge and scientific advancements, for instance, the First World War has demonstrated that humans may destroy themselves as ever before. "Anarchy" and rivers of blood were "loosed on the earth" (which clearly evoke the mass death of war). "Innocence," now "drowned," has simply been a "ceremony." "The best" individuals do not have a sense of conviction that indicates they don't have any trouble doing something about the horrible reality.
According to the speaker, the current situation of the globe demonstrates that the "centre," that is, the cornerstone of civilization, has never been very strong. In other words, the purported arc of advancement of humanity has been a delusion. It is uncertain whether or not a poem signifies the loss of a human being, but the promises of contemporary civilization, security and dignity of the human race have, in any case, proved vain. And instead, there has come a terrifying creature, the hideous distortion of Christianity's prophesied "Second Coming," during which Jesus Christ should go back to earth and invite genuine Christians to heaven. Obviously, this Second Coming is not Jesus but rather "a rude beast," which humanity wakes up itself (perhaps, the first stanza implies, by the constant noise of its many wars). "The Second Coming," which suggests it is not the steady and trustworthy force many consider to be, presents a disturbing view on Christian morality. The poem makes it evident that from the outset, Jesus is returning to the world to redeem the deserving in the Bible Book of Revelation. The Bible says that this is intended to be the last era of humanity: an age of total conflict, starvation, devastation and hate.
The poem indicates that the end times are occurring already because mankind has lost all sense of morality – and perhaps this morality was just a delusion at first. The speaker recounts the chaos, uncertainty and moral weakness that "things" caused to "break apart." in the opening verse. In the second, the poem shows that Christian morality is especially unfinished. In the description of this vast destruction, the poem wonders if Christian morality has been established on a weak basis in the first place—that is, if humankind never indeed was moral but rather pretentious. This notion of morality is reverted to the bottom in the first verse image: Good and evil (the 'best' and the «worst') are not the trustworthy classes they used to be, but rather 'just anarchy' ('mere' implies something like pure' in this regard). Humanity has been impregnated with blood—a "blood-dimmed tide"—that moralism has always been just a "ceremony," an event that evocates the illusion of "innocence" of man. Moreover, the poem indicates that nobody – not even Jesus – can correct this dreadful reality. The tone of the speaker is measured and separated in particular at the introduction, which suggests very little of the night-like vision in the second verse. That stated, the poem has now established its primary assumption of a loss of control.
Although the significance of the poem is uncertain, it appears that this loss of control is the responsibility of humankind over civilizations. The biblical Revelation anticipates a sort of the last count in which individuals get, depending on their moral behaviour and their religious qualities, basically what they deserve; it implies that Jesus is going to arrive to save those dignified by being saved. However, "The Second Coming" does not provide such convenience. Rather, the poetry in the first line of the second stanza points out that there must be a time of divine intervention ("surely some revelation is at hand"). And "some revelation" is close, as it turns out. But this discovery, instead of bringing the world back to peace, exacerbates matters: a new, hideous animal heads towards Bethlehem, Jesus' birthplace, to be introduced into the world. When Jesus has been the leading figure in the moral movement, the new monstrous leader is the figurehead of a new "anarchy" society, in which the "best" people (perhaps the most moral people) lack the guts to believe, and the "worst" can prosper. In other words, in the face of the violence and destruction produced by humankind, the poem presents Christian morals and prophesy as weak or even proved wrong. Meanwhile, the poem's "Spiritus Mundi" has been considered by Yeats as the collective world unconscious by the author. Therefore, this picture of the beast suggests a change in "anarchy" throughout the planet, as the collective consciousness of humankind makes morality happen.
On a concluding note, it needs to be mentioned that "The Second Coming" is a very ambiguous poem. Yeats, in fact, rewrote the poem before publishing explicit cultural allusions. However, this is not an error, a dismal picture of humanity's future, which depicts moralism as a sort of communal dream becoming meaningless in the present situation.
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