Skip to main content

I used to love this poem as a junior art-school girl and rediscovered it lately. Now, I see references from it and to it everywhere, in as disparate places as The Sopranos and a Joni Mitchell song.

Anyway, here it is - stunning, no?


W.B. Yeats - 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 Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the 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?

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest


He dabbled in theosophy and the occult, and considered Christianity an idea whose time had passed. "The Second Coming" is not, as its title and the Bethlehem reference might suggest, an account of the return of the Messiah. What is being born is nothing resembling Christ.

Great stuff, Rob. Thanks for posting, hadnt seen it at the time..

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.