William “Wild Bill” Yeats Pat Lynch and Nick Basara The greatest poet the world has EVER seen. • My man won the Nobel Prize in 1924 for literature • Together with Lady Gregory he founded the Irish Theatre, which was to become the Abbey Theatre, and served as its chief playwright until the movement was joined by John Synge. • Irish Senator in the 1920’s • Although a convinced patriot, Yeats deplored the hatred and the bigotry of the Nationalist movement, and his poetry is full of moving protests against it • His recurrent themes are the contrast of art and life, masks, cyclical theories of life (the symbol of the winding stairs), and the ideal of beauty and ceremony contrasting with the hubbub of modern life. Turning and turning in the widening gyre A shape with lion body and the head of The falcon cannot hear the falconer; a man, Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, Is moving its slow thighs, while all The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and about it everywhere Wind shadows of the indignant The ceremony of innocence is drowned; desert birds. The best lack all conviction, while the worst The darkness drops again but now I Are full of passionate intensity. know 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; 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? • Because of its stunning, violent imagery and terrifying ritualistic language, "The Second Coming" is one of Yeats' most famous poems; it is also one of the most difficult to understand. • The first stanza describes the conditions present in the world (things falling apart, anarchy, etc.), • The second stanza describes conditions that a monstrous Second Coming is about to take place, not of the Jesus we first knew, but of a new messiah, a "rough beast," the slouching sphinx rousing itself in the desert and lumbering toward Bethlehem. Allusion “When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi” "spiritus mundi" (literally "spirit of the world") is a reference to • The Yeats' belief that each human mind is linked to a single vast intelligence, and that this intelligence causes certain universal symbols to appear in individual minds. This shows how Yeats believes in a greater power Imagery • “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“ • Yeat’s uses clear imagery to describe a sphinx • The sphinx is a symbol of death and bad luck.