Group 1 Kara Semento (allusion) Rita Williams (symbolism) Deborah Van Pelt (diction) Francine Locker (Intro/Conclusion) The Second Coming By William Butler Yeats Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center 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? 1921 In Yeats ”The Second Coming,” the author uses several literary devises such as symbolism, allusion, and diction to construct a vision of a coming era in which the old order of Christianity is being replaced. Yeats alludes to the Second Coming of Christ as it is separated twice in the second stanza. Throughout the poem, an obvious reference is made to the Biblical Book of Revelation, “surely some revelation is at hand.” However, Yeats describes the second coming as a dark force with a frightening and dangerous purpose. Yeats alludes to the Biblical idea of the second coming to demonstrate that something is coming and will change the world, just as Christ transformed the world upon his appearance. The “Spiritus Mundi,” which is Latin for “Spirit of the world,” is a reference to 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. Carl Jung’s book The Psychology of the Unconscious, published in 1912, could have had an influence, with its idea of the collective unconscious. The line “A shape with lion body and the head of a man” is an allusion to the sphinx. The image of the second coming is of a “rough beast” which has the head-intellect of a man and the fierce emotions and body intelligence of a beast. The Christ figure of the second coming, “A shape with lion body and the head of a man,” is an image from ancient Egypt. The widening gyre” symbolizes Yeats belief that the previous historical era is coming to a close, and another era is likely beginning. As the falcon is released by the falconer, he flies around and around (“turning and turning”) in a cyclical pattern much like the recurring nature of historical eras. But Yeats says” the falcon cannot hear the falconer,” an indication that mankind is eschewing the order. Another bird is mentioned later in the poem, “the indignant bird,” whose shadow is heralding the coming new age. In addition, Yeats’ diction helps to underscore the theme of loss of control, of uncertainty, of a vortex without a bottom. The repetition of the word “turning” in the first line of the poem evokes a sense of spinning, like a child whirling round and round in an effort to fall down. Yeats continues this repetitive device in lines 4 and 5 (“loosed”) and in lines 9 and 10 (“surely”); these repetitions accent the poet’s tone of pleading for someone – anyone – to listen to his dark prediction and hopefully take action. Moreover, in lines 10 and 11, Yeats repeats “the Second Coming” to emphasize that the Christian era will soon be replaced with another, albeit an unknown, monolith. The poet also employs an oxymoronic or antithetical device – “mere anarchy” – to highlight the cataclysmic event that looms on the horizon. In lines 12-22, Yeats chooses words that contain an “S” sound, such as “Spiritus,” “sight,” “somewhere,” “sands,” “shape,” “pitiless as the sun,” “slow thighs,” “darkness drops,” and “stony sleep.” The alliteration and consonance used throughout these lines conjure the image of a serpent ready to strike, which can perhaps be read as an unstated Biblical allusion to the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man. Man fell once, twenty centuries ago; now, after the ravages of the First World War and the Russian Revolution, Man falls for a second time. Indeed, Yeats’ diction is so powerful that Chinua Achebe titled his African novel, Things Fall Apart, after a line in the poem.