The Second Coming : Poem Annotation

An annotation of W.B. Yeats' The Second Coming.

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  • Created on: 14-05-12 11:36
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The Second Coming
Key concept: The gyre is the concept that life rotates towards maximum expansion, leading to a new
gyre forming in the centre of the previous. This continues in a never-ending line, and is a metaphor
for periods of history. This poem was written at a time of change; reflecting possibly the destruction
that war brings, the `English Gyre' contracting ­ the end of WWI, and the Irish Gyre beginning to
The rhyme scheme's constant change and the use of free verse could represent constant chaos.
Chaos: the bird A Turning and turning in the widening gyre Possibly a
of prey is now a A The falcon cannot hear the falconer; metaphor for the
victim itself; B Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; rebirth of christ:
everything has B Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, note the
gone wrong. C The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and language used
This oxymoron D everywhere `blood-dimmed
creates a E The ceremony of innocence is drowned; tide' `loosed'
scornful tone, as F The best lack all conviction, while the worst `ceremony of
if he is mocking G Are full of passionate intensity. innocence' ­
those who G Surely some revelation is at hand; christening. But
believe the H Surely the Second Coming is at hand. this stretches
`second coming' F The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out wider than just
is a good thing. H When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi this rebirth- it is
Alternatively, it I Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands the desert loosed
could be J A shape with lion body and the head of a man, `everywhere' and
interpreted as K A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, this `ceremony of
`mere' anarchy L Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it innocence' has
meaning the M Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. negative
anarchy is pure N The darkness drops again, but now I know connotations ­
and undiluted. O That twenty centuries of stony sleep people are
Revelation P Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, `drowned' in it.
17:3-6 tells us Q And what rough beast, its hour come round at The exclamation
that `the beast' last, point brings
will come as a Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? mockery to this
precursor to the idea: mocking
Second Coming LINK: Leda and the Swan: once again, the image of those who
of Christ. `thighs' used to present horror being unleashed believe the
Has the Beast on civilisation `loosening thighs' Second Coming
come in the form will be wholly
of WWI? good?
Biblical link; ties Spiritus Mundi
back to the means `Spirit of
Christian beliefs the World' ­
at the end. belief that each
human mind is
linked to a single
vast intelligence,
symbols to
throughout life.
Yeats may be

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The Second Coming
suggesting that
not everything in
this poem is as it
seems; symbolic.…read more


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