The Second Coming by William Yeats

1288 WordsApr 1, 20056 Pages
William Butler Yeats, a multitalented individual won the Nobel Prize in 1923. Born the son of a well known Irish painter and religious skeptic had many influences in his life. Eventually, he converted to Paganism from Christianity. He is till this day considered one of the greatest poets that ever lived. To understand the meaning of William Butler Yeats poem "The Second Coming", you must first understand the difference between Christianity and Paganism. Yeats was raised as a Christian and turned to pagan mysticism later in his life. Therefore, we can find the subject of this poem by tracing his flow of thought through Christianity up to the point when he diverged from it. Christianity is based around the soul. The soul becomes healthy by…show more content…
This brings us to the final two lines in "The Second Coming", "And what rough beast, its hour come ‘round at last/ slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" This first sums up the poems theme of a "Second Coming" of paganism as opposed to Christ. Secondly, however, are the implications of the statement. The book of revelations says that in his second coming Christ will not be born humbly among men, but to come to the world in full glory. But Yeats, since he has already established the true nature of this second coming, now returns to this prophecy, pointing out that it had been partially right, that the figure of the coming would not be born humbly. But it seems that he half suggests the reason why this is true is because of an inherent weakness in Christianity. He seems to imply that Paganism, a brutal and powerful force, would not stoop to a meek coming that of Jesus. The previous line referring to Christianity as a "rocking cradle", the calmness of which stirred the spiritus mundi, suggests that Yeats had come to view Christianity as week and its innocence as idealistic and impractical in the real world, in which the spiritus mundi can promise satisfaction and earthly fulfillment. Imagery is really strong in this poem. The first two images are complimentary. The spinning gyre, producing dizziness, and the lost falcon, which cannot answer the calls it is trained for, it is lost. In a sense, power is
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