The Second Coming

The Second Coming by W B Yeats is one of Ireland’s most popular poems. Yeats wrote it just after the end of the first world war and captured the mood of people in Europe in the poem.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
W B Yeats

There have references to and quotes from The Second Coming in countless TV programmes and films over the years, including The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy and Heroes.

The Second Coming by W B Yeats. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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?

The Second Coming by W B Yeats. Image copyright Ireland Calling

W B Yeats

Poems

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Ireland's 100 favourite poems

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