Essay on ENG 125 Introduction to Literature

Submitted By maryt50
Words: 1376
Pages: 6

The Second Coming
Verquitta Johnson
ENG125: Introduction to Literature (ACI1403B)
Instructor: Amber Anaya


The Second Coming William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman so honored for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower and The Winding Stair and Other Poems. Yeats was a very good friend of American expatriate poet and Bollingen Prize laureate Ezra Pound. Yeats wrote the introduction for Tagore's Gitanjali, which was about to be published by the India Society. There are many examples of symbolism in the poem. Remember that Yeats is writing this as the First World War has ended. It’s shattering of Europe both physically and morally has left permanent scars on both landscape and people. At the same time, Yeats possesses this unshakable feeling that it's not over, that something more sinister looms on the horizon. The use of symbols in the poem helps to convey both. The opening image of the "widening gyre" brings forth the idea that a vortex of some type, a black hole has descended upon humanity. This lack of clarity and uncertainty is why the normally reliable "falcon cannot hear the falconer." The idea of the center being unable to hold as "things fall apart" is another symbolic image which brings forth the idea that the political and moral structure that guided people has been broken and all that is left is the presence of "mere anarchy." There is little certain in this setting other than "the best lack all conviction and the worst are filled with passionate intensity." These symbols in the opening stanza go very far in representing a world that is left with little in way of hope and redemption. The symbolism of "The Second Coming" is the Christian belief that the reappearance of Christ is what will put right all that is wrong. It is the moment of human absolution, and this vision of totality is addressed in the poem. While Yeats open with a call that "some revelation is at hand," he also symbolizes this with a description of a rather horrific figure, which is meant to symbolize how individuals are prone to embrace nearly anything that might be disguised or concealed as hope even if it symbolizes the exact opposite of it. The symbolism of this image acquires even greater significance when seen in the emergence of dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Fanco, and Mussolini throughout Europe. As this figure, once seen to be symbolic of the Second Coming comes into view, the symbolism of it slouching "towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born" brings for the image of not a triumphant vision, but rather one that terrifies and strikes at the very essence of who we are and in what we believe. This ultimate act of symbolism helps to bring forth the idea that we, as individuals, wait for something to not save us, but actually terrify us more. Yeats's "THE SECOND COMING" is vastly rich in symbolism. Diction such as "gyre, "falcon," "the blood-dimmed tide," "the ceremony of innocence," and "the worst who are full of passionate intensity" symbolize important aspects of Yeats’s theory of cycles in history. Yeats also uses capital letters for the “Second Coming” because the term is connected to the putative second coming of Christ, which traditionally is to