William Butler Yeats
The Second Coming (c. 1920)

 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

 

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

 

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;

4

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

 

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

 

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

 

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

8

Are full of passionate intensity.

 

Surely some revelation is at hand;

 

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

 

 

 

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

12

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

 

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

 

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

 

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

16

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

 

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

 

The darkness drops again; but now I know

 

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

20

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

 

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

 

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


1. gyre: a spiraling motion which forms a cone.

12. Spiritus Mundi: soul of the world.