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The Second Coming: A Painful Truth?

777 words - 3 pages

"The Second Coming: A Painful Truth?"

For hundreds of centuries, man has pondered what revelations or spiritual awakenings will occur in future's time. Poet William Yeats, has written, "The Second Coming," which foretells how the Second Coming brings horror and repression to the world. Yeats takes into speculation that the future will certainly bring further darkness than is already present in the current world. He employs various symbols and allusions to assert his claims of the world's ultimate demise. The purpose of these symbols and allusions make it possible to fully understand Yeats's point of view of the fall of our present civilization and the rise of a new civilization with a gloomy future.

One of Yeats' major symbols, the "widening gyre", is used systemically to show the destruction of the current civilization and the emergence of a new one. The continuing "turning and turning" of the gyre (line 1) illustrates the last breath of a period of history and its plunge into a new repressive world. Additionally, the widening of the tornado-like gyre parallels the intensity of the old world's present chaos. As the spiral of the gyre grows, the falcon (line 2) flies higher and higher where it can no longer hear its master, thus signaling the crumbling of the natural order of the world. The "center [of the gyre] can no longer hold." The symbolic occurrence of the gyre's ongoing function further shows to replenish itself by the arrival of the "rough beast" which marks the beginning of the new era. Furthermore, the hovering of the "indignant desert birds" symbolizes the formation of the new gyre, which begins as a small compact spiral, just as the previous one once was. Consequently, the desert birds are present to again wait for death to strike as the new world eventually spirals into massive chaos and darkness. This process repeats itself over and over, which marks the beginning and ending of continuous cycles of history.

Another major symbol that Yeats employs is the sphinx-like character that presents itself at the second coming. The sphinx represents a satanic, domineering, merciless monster, which in turn represents the horrendous terror of the new world to be. Yeats describes the sphinx as a "rough beast" with birds of...

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