Analysis Of The Second Coming By W. B. Yeats

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William Butler Yeats was a great Irish poet of the twentieth century. During his lifespan World War I occurred, along with its resulting political upheaval. He also lived in the century before the change of the millennium, a theme touched upon in his poems. He, like many other authors, incorporated the events that occurred during his life into his work. This important factor of the time period is clearly reflected in his work, “The Second Coming.” The critical consensus regarding the poem “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats is that the new post World War I society in Europe, along with the quickly approaching millennium, culminated in the poem prophesying a new age of evil opening with the ascension of a beast.
The critics’ consensus is that
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This Yeats conceptualizes through the image of the ‘gyre,’ one of his most durable symbols, a kind of whirling vortex or spiral-within-a-spiral that is meant to show how one cycle loses strength in direct proportion to the other’s gain” (Meyer 190). The gyre is used because “Yeats believed that history was cyclical. Human history, he claimed, was governed by the rotation of a Great Wheel, whose phases . . . influence events and determine human personalities. Every two thousand years, the Wheel completes a turn and a new cycle or civilization (one of two opposing characters) is ushered in, heralded by violence and incarnated through an act of union between a male god in avian form and a mortal female” (Meyers 189). Which means “[i]f Zeus’s descent upon Leda initiated the period from about 2000 B.C. to the year zero, and if the Holy Ghost’s descent upon Mary initiated the subsequent period from the year zero to approximately A.D. 2000, then in 1919 the poet could speculate that the next such annunciation might occur . . . just barely within his lifetime” (Allen 3195). Indeed, “[o]n the brink of the new millennium, there are ominous portents that the Christian cycle is drawing to a close and that what will replace it — its antithesis — will merely deepen the nightmare of history” (Meyer 189). The falcon’s path around the falconer is supremely important to the interpretation of

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