The Second Coming.
William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin, Ireland. His father was a lawyer and happened to be a well know artist of the time. Yeats was educated in both England, specifically London, and in Dublin, Ireland. Although the majority of his summers were spent in the west of Ireland in the family’s summerhouse. Yeats was involved in societies that attempted to write and compose Irish literature. His first piece of literature appeared in 1887, but in his earlier period his dramatic production outweighed his poetry both in bulk and in import.
Alongside Lady Gregory he founded the Irish Theatre, which became the Abbey Theatre, which served as its chief playwright until John Synge joined the movement. After 1910, Yeats’s dramatic art took a sharp turn toward a static, and esoteric style. He was appointed to the Irish Senate in 1922. Yeats is one of the only writers who has their greatest works written after the award of the Nobel Prize, which he recieve for his literature in “dramatic works”.
His most recurrent theme is the ideal of beauty and ceremony contrasting with the hubbub of modern life. Yates wrote in a period of modernism, right after World War One. Many other historical English writing favorites wrote in this time period where modernist ideals were most prevalent. William Butler Yeats was one of the most interesting and influential twentieth-century poets. The poem “The Second Coming” is cleverly split up into two different stanzas, being almost unrelated they still create a good connection for the reader to put the poem together.
In the beginning of the poem Yates talks about a falcon which in medieval times be used to hung small ground animals such as rodents to bring back to their keeper. The falcon has flown too far away and has gotten itself lost trying to find its way, symbolizing a collapse of social anarchy in Europe (the atmosphere Yates was writing in) and setting a general overall mood for what the rest of the poem is to bring. In line four, the poem shifts and begins to talk about the violence and describes a hostile picture of a blood wave in which “innocence” is drowned.
This line keeps with he same mood as the falcon losing its way also makes another shot at social stability (most likely referring to his society right after the war). Line nine strikes the beginning of the second stanza, and thus the reader a different vision. The “second Coming” will be occurring due to the shattering of social anarchy. Yates describes a figure intended to be the “second Coming” with fascinating and attractive adjectives, making the shadow who is not intended to be Christ seem very supreme.
In an instant the figure disappears and darkness swells over again. Lastly Yates makes a reference about the character making a trip to Bethlehem to insure the birth of Christ, entering back into the world. An obvious literary device used in this poem is mood, but more importantly the change in mood and what it is suppose to signal. Mood is the overall feeling of the poem. This poem fluctuates but for the majority of the of it, the mood of darkness and evil seems to catch your eye. n line eighteen the darkness falls back over. Setting is also used in this poem to make connection to an object, in this case a creature. Setting is the time, or place the poem takes place in. The figure seen in line twelve of the second stanza is supposedly thought to be going to Bethlehem, a holy capital and recognized place of holiness. Hence when a setting such as Bethlehem is incorporated the reader can immediately consider the poems relevance to religious teachings or thought.
You can see this biblical thought when Yates mentions the blood-dimmed wave in line five, which can be contrasted to the great biblical flood. Lastly the diction used by Yates to increase the reader’s attention by rhyming the last word of lines together. Diction is the style of literary wording the writer chooses to use, and in this case a clever rhyming scheme was incorporated. For example in lines three and four the words hold and world are rhymed. World War one brought on loads of hardship and despair, one of the main characteristics of the modernism era and “The Second Coming”.
This poem gives the reader a feeling of uneasiness from the mood and overall manner of the poem. It is meant to appear dark, mentioning things such as blood dimmed waves and darkness falling over you. “The Second Coming” has similar aspects as other poems of this time period. Many of the writer’s of the modernism era kept a tight knit set of characteristics they wanted their literature to describe. 1984 by George Orwell relates to many themes and motifs, but one theme in particular relates also to the modern ear ideals. 984 was based on a society of lie and potential collapse at any moment, and in the poem society is collapsing in on itself as seen in line three and four when Yates references the center not being able to hold and mere anarchy being spread upon the world. in 1984 it appears anarchy being spread upon the earth already occurred and all that is left behind is merely a totalitarian government ruling over life forms more closely related to robots than actual humans with real emotion. The poem makes this same reference to as if the social integrity of the world crumbles, evil will insure with power.