The Second Coming- W.B Yeats

  • Created by: Natasha
  • Created on: 07-05-13 17:26

First Stanza

First Stanza: 

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre" - repetition emphasises Yeats theory of gyres;spiralling out of control; the end is inevitable (terrifying opening) 

"The falcon cannot hear the falconer"- He has lost control, things are changing; compare to Among Schoolchildren "the dancer from the dance"; the falcon and falconer cannot be united, out of control, violence is reaching its peak. 

"mere anarchy is loosed"- repetition of 'loosed' represents inevitability; loose suggests falling out/chaos/falling apart

"The ceremony of innocence is drowned"- Yeats believes the innocence has been destroyed, its a fabrication born of religion and belief; he is suggesting that the harsh reality of war has killed belief. 

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Second Stanza

"Surely some revelation is at hand;surely the second coming is at hand"- 'Surely' repeated to empahsise the inevitability; Yeats fears what is coming and is waiting for the impact. 'Some' expresses desperation. It demonstrates how people believed the beast had been born and second coming must be coming soon.

"Shape with lion body and head of a man"- description of a sphinx-> beast of apocalypse, inuman, unseen truth. 

"moving its slow thighs"- edging closer to mankind; compare to 'Leda and the Swan', "loosesning thighs", imagery of thighs used to describe the birth and unleashing of horrow unpon civilisation. Links to birth of Helen or Troy/fall and destruction of Roman Empire. 

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Third Stanza

"The darkness drops again"- 'Pathetic fallacy', creates fear, furious at the world, represents its the end of the day. 

"Twenty centuries of stony sleep"- People have become stone hearted. Links to Easter 1916 "the stones in the midst of it all" which suggests something destructive and threatening (The new birth of Ireland). Stone also suggest stubborn and emotionless. 

"Vexed"- Yeats is angered by civilisation. 

"Slouches towards Bethleham to be born?"- Rhetorical question is searching and terrifying.'Slouches' suggests it is unnatural and menacing-> new world created is going to be destructive. Ending can be related to religion and can suggest the beast (WW1) will kill christ as it causes people to question their faith, as Yeats is doing, and they will no longer believe it. 

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Verse Form

Iambic Pentameter- relentless surge from the beast; inevitabilty of the change, incessant is 'loosed'

Rhyme Scheme- AABBCDEF- the rhyme scheme spirals out of control as it starts of ordered and eventually descends into chaos. This represents the 'gyres' spiralling out of contol and that there will be something destuctive born to create changes in Ireland that cannot be controlled or stopped. 

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Wider Issues/Themes/Context

  • The Second Coming- There were many biblical reference to this event where christians believe Jesus will return on earth. 
  • Beast of Apocalpyse- book of revelations suggests two beasts will arrive out of the Abycs.
  • The sphinx is related to greek mythology 

Yeats describes his poem as "a reaction to the growing murderousness of the world." 

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