By William Butler Yeats
, originally published in Michael Robartes and the Dancer in either 1920 or 1921, depending on where you get your information, and to this day available in various editions
For those who want a heftier tome, there's The Major Works: Including Poems, Plays and Critical Prose
and a few books imaginatively entitled
The Collected Poems
About a week ago I posted the lyrics to Fall Apart
by Death in June
Whenever I hear that song I always thing of this poem, specifically the third line. Like Death
in Tarot it can be taken in various ways - is representative of an impending apocalypse or merely the end of the current way of things and the birth of a new era?
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?