The Second Coming 1

If this poem sounds familiar to you, it is probably for one of two reasons (maybe both):

1. You took an advanced Literature course at some point in time.
2. You watched the season premiere of “Heroes”.

If it’s the second one — don’t feel bad.

However, just in case you feel left out now because you thought Dr. Suresh had just come up with this brilliant ending narration by himself, I’ll share a little bit of background information about the poem. “The Second Coming” was written in 1919 in the wake of World War I by William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet who won the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1923. Also, line 3 of this poem inspired the title of Things Fall Apart, a critically acclaimed African novel written by Chinua Achebe.

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
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
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
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?