In a world full of hostility and loss of faith surrounded by war and technological developments, he modernist era of literature developments, the modernists era of literature arose. The sinking of the Titanic symbolized the falling of the Great Britain empire and newly invented standardized time allowed war to become even deadlier than before due to the ability to organize attacks. Due to this new world full of bloodshed and new mechanical inventions, the world was falling further and further away from God. William Butler Years expresses his sudden collapse of society in his poem “The Second Coming”, first composed in January of 1919. The hopelessness of mankind is addressed by Keats’ statement that man cannot save us, God cannot save us, and the question: If man and God can’t save us, then what is going to happen to us?
In lines 1-2, Keats discusses a widening gyre, a ring or circle. The widening gyre represents the gyre spinning out of control and this circle growing wider and wider with society in it. O’Brien says, “The ‘widening gyre’ describes not only the circular, ever-widening course of the falcon’s flight. It also refers to an important aspect of Yeats’ theory of history. Influenced by Giambattista Vico and Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophies of eternal recurrence, Yeats sees history as a cycle of declines and regenerations. Each historical era is replaced by its opposite. Gyres describe the interacting and conflicting era.”
With the fall of Britain and their horrible loss of financial superiority, it is obvious any society can fall no matter how strong they are. The relationship of the falconer and the falcon is the relationships of a teacher and student. The falconer sends the falcon out to fly and calls him back when he strays too far. In “The Second Coming”, the falconer is God and the falcon is society. Because of the “turning and turning in the widening gyre”, we can no longer hear God. Society has strayed so far away from God that we cannot be guided back home.
Yeats begins the poem with the first two lines painting an image of society falling apart and breaking down, one that O’Brien refers to as a “cultural breakdown.”He says, “The falcon represents those forces that function productively only when disciplined.” In order to maintain structure and to prevent the gyre from widening further, our society needs discipline, otherwise our structure, our faith, or very nature as human beings deteriorates. At this time in our society, our discipline in our faith is gone. Our discipline in our morals and ethics is gone.
Lines 3-6 illustrate society’s inability to hold together without discipline. Because the falcon can no longer hear the falconer to find its way back home, “things fall apart” – the result of society straying from God. With everything falling apart, the need for someone or something to save society becomes prominent. Since society has strayed away from God, the next solution is man as a savior, but with the new age of...