The Second Coming Journal Essay

Submitted By quinnperkins
Words: 970
Pages: 4

Kayla Reiss
Dr. Klein
AP English 12
9 November 2014
A Twisted Past, Present, and Future The presence of corruption and evil in the world proves to be a popular topic throughout history. From novels to poems to songs, artists expressed their beliefs through this theme. Written by W.B. Yeats, the poem “The Second Coming” is one of the most popular examples of the expression of this topic. Yeats found inspiration for this poem from World War I and the destruction that the war caused. Many can see that the subject has not lost its attractiveness as two modern songs, “It’s the End of the World” by the rock group R.E.M. and “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel, proclaim the immorality found in the present day. Thus, the poem “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats, and the songs “It’s the End of the World” by R.E.M. and “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel illustrate the same theme of destruction and evil and a similar tone of hopelessness. In “The Second Coming”, Yeats utilizes a metaphor and biblical allusions to exemplify the theme of evil and a hopeless and dismal tone. In the first stanza of the poem, Yeats depicts the image of a tamed falcon breaking free from its falconer. He writes, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer,/Things fall apart; the center cannot hold” (1-3). This metaphor represents humanity in general. Just as the falcon loses its center and guidance, so does humanity. This metaphor illuminates the theme of corruption as it symbolizes a society who loses touch with guiding principles in the world, such as morality and goodwill, thus leading to destruction and malevolence. In addition to the metaphor, Yeats employs biblical allusions to portray the dark tone of the piece as well as the theme. Yeats references the Bible as he says, “And what rough beast, its hour come rough at last,/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” (21-2). The phrase “rough beast” alludes to the Second Coming and the Antichrist, who the Christians believe to be the single most concentrated form of evil. Yeats mentions this figure to predict the depressing future of the world, thus portraying a hopeless and dismal tone as well as exemplifying the theme of evil throughout the poem. The word “slouches” also brings a negative connotation to the reader as one sees a hero standing upwards with pride and a villain slouching over with bad intentions. Hence, in “The Second Coming”, Yeats portrays a melancholy tone and a theme of corruption through his use of literary devices. Similar to “The Second Coming”, “It’s the End of the World” by R.E.M. exemplifies a theme of devastation and a tone of desolation. The rock group, R.E.M., employs imagery and word choice throughout their song to achieve the theme and tone. In the beginning of the song, R.E.M. sings, “That’s great, it starts with an earthquake,/Birds and snakes, an aeroplane…/Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn.” The use of visual imagery illustrates a picture of chaos and destruction due to the mention of natural disasters, and through auditory imagery, the phrase “Listen to yourself churn” brings a tone of uneasiness to the audience. Therefore, the imagery throughout the song exemplifies the dark and dismal tone and the overall theme of chaos. In addition to imagery, R.E.M.’s use of word choice demonstrates the tone and theme of the song. The strong diction can be seen as the band sings, “Slash and burn, return”, which emphasizes the hectic and destructive theme of the song, and “Save yourself, serve yourself”, as this line illustrates a tone of isolation and hopelessness. Comparable to “The Second Coming”, “It’s the End