Comparing T S Eliot's The Wasteland and William Butler Yeats' The Second Coming

2980 Words 12 Pages
Comparing T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland and William Butler Yeats' The Second Coming

World War One fundamentally changed Europeans perspective on man. Before the war they believed that man was innately good, after it people were disenchanted with this vision of man. Both Thomas Sterns Eliot and William Butler Yeats keenly felt this disenchantment, and evinced it in their poetry. In addition to the war, Eliot and Yeats also saw the continuing turmoil in Europe, such as the Russian Revolution and the Irish Rebellions, as confirmation of their fear of man's nature and expanded their disillusionment in "The Waste Land" and "The Second Coming."

The poets shared more than a disbelief in the goodness of man's nature, they also both
…show more content…
"The Second Coming draws from both Yeats' past and present religious beliefs, and contains many mythological allusions that heighten his theme that the age of Christ is over and a new, more horrible age is approaching. On the other hand, Eliot sees the future as redeemable in "The Waste Land." He feels that life in the present is an emotional "Wasteland," that is empty and filled with automatons. To counteract the emptiness of life, Eliot sees hope for a fuller life by following examples of varied myths from the past and myths of present religions such as Christianity.

The differing thrusts of the poems can be seen in the application of the titles. "The Second Coming" reflects Yeats's view that the future will be worse. If he intends the title to mean the return of Christ, the Bible predicts many hardships before Jesus will come again. Yeats's personal mythology also holds that the future will be worse than the present, because life will become a repetition of the distant past. Eliot, on the other hand, uses "The Waste Land" to reflect the emotional emptiness of humans in the present, and the individual titles, such as "The Burial of the Dead" and "What the Thunder Said," to show a path that people must follow to remove themselves form this desolation Yeats' choice of the title, "The Second Coming," shows the double meaning of his philosophy, his blend of personal mythology and
Open Document