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The Second Coming By William Butler Yeats

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by

Sathvik Ravindran

on 16 May 2014

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Transcript of The Second Coming By William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats
Analysis
Analysis
Lines 9-10
The repetition causes the tone to shift from sardonic to hopeful.
Lines 11-13
Spiritus Mundi means "spirit of the world". For Yeats, this was sort of a warehouse of symbols that have been passed from higher beings onto us.
Reflects his interest in mysticism
Tone shifts again, now dark and negatively prophetic.
Lines 14-15
Implication of a sphinx like creature.
Irony: A sphinx isn't a Christian symbol. Seems to be pitiless and malevolent , the Second coming is supposed to be benevolent!
Desert Landscape: signifies that new era is one that is lifeless and dry.
Lines 16-17
"slow thighs" adds suspense, and fear
"reel shadows"-mean that the birds are circling like vultures. Signifies the death of Humanity
Analysis
By Jasmine Herd and Sathvik Ravindran
Title: A Biblical allusion to the Second Coming of Christ as foretold in the Book of Revelation.
Form: 2 Stanzas, Blank verse (rough iambic pentameter), loose but no systematic rhyming, and narrative verse
Tone: foreboding, prophetic, apocalyptic, hopeful, dreadful
The tone moves from apocalyptic in the 1st Stanza to hopeful and then dreadful in the 2nd stanza.
First stanza: Description of the state of the world prior to the Second coming
Second Stanza: Narrator thinking about and describing the Second Coming itself
"The Second Coming" By William Butler Yeats
Born in Ireland in 1865
An ardent Irish patriot; served two terms in the Irish Senate.
He was interested in Irish Mythology/Folklore, mysticism and the occult. (Major influence on his poetry.)
In addition to a poet he was a playwright
One of the founders of the Irish Literary Theatre (now called the Abbey Theatre) in Dublin
Influenced by Shelley, Spenser and Blake.
Won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 for his dramatic works
His importance today is dependent on his poetic achievements
Unlike other poets, his greatest works were written later in life
1865-1939
Title, Form, Tone and Paraphrase
First Stanza
Lines 1-2
A gyre (
in the context of this poem
) is a spiral or vortex that expands as it moves upward.
Metaphor: Yeats compares mankind to a falcon that is flying further and further away (in the gyre) and can't connect to its master (it's guidance).
Lines 3-4
Anarchy and chaos everywhere. Humanity has lost it's sense of direction.
Paradox: "the centre cannot hold"
Lines 5-6
Visual Imagery: The "blood dimmed tide."
Shows the extent of the violence, chaos and bloodshed.
Since water can be a very destructive force; the water Imagery in these lines reflects the turmoil and disorder.
Lines 7-8
Portrays the moral deterioration of the world.
He is calling into question the ethics and morality of the world.
Second Stanza
Analysis
Second Stanza (con't)
Lines 18-20
His vision of the beast ends.
"twenty centuries of stony sleep" refers to the end of the Christian era.
"vexed to a nightmare by a rocking cradle"- indicates the birth of something
terrible
has caused the nightmare.
the sphinx or a "new deity" that is to supplant the Christian era.
Lines 21-22
The beast slouches to the birthplace of Jesus as if it is going to destroy everything and begin and make way for the birth of a nightmarish era.
The adjectives "slouches" and "rough" adds a threatening feeling
Irony: The birth of beast at Bethlehem truly indicates the end of the Christian Era.
Theme, Symbols, Importance of Devices
Themes:
The Second Coming will be the opposite of what is in the Book of Revelation
Further chaos and violence
Humanity has the ability to halt the apocalypse and the eventual demise of the Christian era
"The best lack all conviction..."
Symbols:
The Falcon/Birds: The Demise of Mankind/Civilization
The Beast: the Destroyer
Importance of Devices
Irony in the second stanza and Biblical Allusions created the Theme
Imagery in the first stanza painted a vivid picture of the chaotic world, and in the second helped clarify the Second Coming might be.
Historical Considerations
Written Post WWI-2 Years after
Many have interpreted many parts of this poem to foreshadow the events of WWII and the Cold War
"Things Fall Apart" -These words from Line 3 in the poem influenced Chinua Achebes famous historical fiction Novel Things Fall Apart
Full transcript