To Fear, Or Not To Fear: How Yeats And Hardy Envision God

2382 words - 10 pages

Within both Thomas Hardy’s “The Convergence of the Twain” and W. B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming”, the actions of God are extremely prevalent, though the timing of His intervention varies greatly. Though, both poems were published within a five year period (1914 and 1919 respectively), they convey significantly different perspectives on the actions of God, in relation to our actions as human beings. These poems were written less than a decade apart, but are separated by one significant event that changed the world: the First World War. Though, God plays a prevalent role within both works. His intervention occurs at different times. Yeats demonstrates a God that reacts to man’s actions, whereas Hardy’s God is omniscient, developing a correction to man’s perception of accomplishment before the Titanic is ever constructed. Hardy’s writing came just after the sinking of the Titanic, and he demonstrates that man had outstepped his bounds. In sinking the ‘unsinkable’ ship, according to the speaker, God is correcting the misadventure of man. Yeats’ poem was written shortly after World War I, and the speaker foresees an apocalypse due to the sin of man as a whole. Both authors portray the perceived actions of God, though the speaker within “The Convergence of the Twain” appears to be more accepting and less fearful. Throughout “The Second Coming”, the speaker demonstrates their fear of God’s inevitable reaction to World War I. Both poems share the imagery of water, though its significance varies between poems. The speaker’s acceptance of God’s will within Hardy’s poem represents a devout religiosity that is unwavering throughout this writing, and Yeats’ depiction focuses on fear of the coming future.
Within “The Second Coming,” Yeats demonstrates that the human race has outstepped its bounds. He states, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ The falcon cannot hear the falconer” (Yeats, 1-2). He explains that humankind is travelling further and further from the ideal, referring to man as the falcon and God as the falconer. To further emphasize the growing distance between man and his maker, Yeats continues in saying, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” (3). In creating this distance, the connection between God and man, according to the speaker, has divided to the point that the bond that unites both parties is weakening at an alarming rate. Similarly, Hardy demonstrates man’s mistake in regards to the Titanic. In creating an unsinkable vessel, men believed that they had reached the pinnacle of existence. Ultimately, Hardy refers to the outcome, saying that “…the Spinner of the Years/ Said “Now!” And each one hears,/ And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres” (31-33). In referring to God as the “the Spinner of the Years”, Hardy reinforces that He has the final say in regards to all of man’s actions. Though man believes to have reached the pinnacle of his existence, God demonstrates our misunderstanding through the collision between the...

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