In the poem “The Second Coming”, by William Butler Yeats. He writes this poem after World War I, around 1919. Yeats is a Irish poet, who came from Protestant parentage. The over all theme of the poem is that God will come back again. There are many versions to how God will appear, but in this poem bad things happen first in order for God to come. In “The Second Coming,” Yeats uses symbolism to unfold the meaning of the poem.
The first symbol in the poem would be the falcon. The falcon would represent humans in the world. Scattered around the world and believing in different religions. In the poem it says “The falcon cannot hear the falconer;” (2), which implies that humans are lost. Without their master, which in this case is God, humans are guided into the wrong path. When their is no one to lead them to the right place everything can go wrong. The speaker goes on to say “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;”(3) This means that ...view middle of the document...
Not having peace in the world, innocent people getting killed, and people trying to survive.
The speaker makes another allusion to the reappearance of Jesus Christ as prophesied in the book of Revelation (9-11). The speaker is trying to make a point that God is coming back for the second time, but no one knows when. Which brings me back to the title of the poem “The Second Coming”, whom symbolizes the reappearance of Christ.
The speaker then moves on to talk about “A vast image out of Spiritus Mundi, Troubles my sight:” (12-13). The speaker implies that he has stumble upon a image that confuses him. The speaker goes on and describes a sphinx, a winged monster of Thebes, having a woman's head and a lion's body. This symbolizes his confusion like when Christ confused species in the Book of Revelation, such as locusts with the scorpion tails.The speaker then goes back to saying “Moving its slow thighs” (16-17), meaning he is in no hurry to get here. Implying that God is coming back, but no one knows when.
The last symbol is quite confusing. When the speaker says “darkness drops again”, “stony sleep”, and “vexed to nightmare by rocking cradle” (18-20). He is describing what he knows now. Its been twenty centuries since “the first coming” of God. So, he knows that “The Second Coming” is nothing like the first one. The cradle symbolizes something has been born. In the last lines it says “rough beast”, “slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?” (21-22). The speaker believes that something is going to be born, but where? It might be in Bethlehem since that was the birth place of Christ. The speaker also doesn’t know wether it will be animal or human. That is why the speaker says “rough beast” giving it animal like characteristics.
The use of symbolism unfolds the meaning of the poem. The theme of the poem is that God will come back again, but no one knows when. There are many versions to how God will reappear. In this poem bad things happen first in order for God to come. In “The Second Coming”.
Yeats, William Butler. “The Second Coming.”
Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth
McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 7th ed.
Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2005. 427. Prin