The Second Coming Summary
“The Second Coming” is narrated by a speaker who is observing the planet around him with horror. The poem begins with the phrase “Turning and delivering the widening gyre,” a sentence that evokes an occult symbol that perpetually fascinated William Butler Yeats: interlocked circles. A gyre may be a spiral or vortex, and Yeats believed that the universe was comprised of interlocked circles, which together structure up individual lives that coalesce to make the entire of existence.
Essentially, this first line is simply a posh way of claiming that something is occurring during this world. Something is churning and awakening; some new existence is rising out of the present haze of life that we all sleep in, expanding it and enlarging the scope of what life is and altering how the planet works on a fundamental level.
The whole first section finds the speaker observing a world that’s losing touch with order and morality. Violence is destroying innocence, people became detached from their leaders, something fundamental is dissolving, and other people who believe goodness is being silenced, while the loudest speakers are the villains and chaos-bringers.
The second section, beginning with the road “Surely some revelation is at hand,” finds the speaker sure that some major shift is occurring around him. All this chaos can’t be an accident, certainly. Something vast is coming, some distorted version of the Christian apocalypse is descending upon the land; some end is approaching.
The third section describes the speaker’s vision for what this Second Coming, this new world redefined by all the violence and chaos that occurred within the past, might appear as if. He cares about the “Spiritus Mundi,” which may be a Latin term meaning “World Spirit,” and begins to see images within this “World Spirit,” including desert sphinxes and shadowy birds.
By the top of the poem, the speaker is certain that something even worse is coming. Some nightmare—some “rough beast”—is rising, approaching the world at a rapid pace. He doesn’t know what this creature is, but he can sense its approach—and it’s the ominous core of “The Second Coming,” that mysterious tide of evil and mystery approaching the planet within the sort of modernity filled with violence, war, and therefore the loss of traditional meaning and values.
The speaker then describes individual men and ladies who participated in the Rising. One woman tried earnestly but misguidedly to accomplish positive change. Her devotion to extreme political positions was reflected in her endless, strident asserting her side. She wont to show a more moderate, engaging personality when she was a young, beautiful woman who spent her time in leisurely pursuits like hunting. One man was a schoolteacher and poet, metaphorically riding the “winged horse” (a symbol of poetic inspiration in Greek mythology); another man was a poet and critic who was helping the primary man develop his talent and cultivating his own. This poet may need to become famous for his art, given his perceptiveness and his attractive, innovative style.
There was another man whom the speaker perceived as an arrogant, good-for-nothing drunkard. This man was abusive towards people the speaker cared for very deeply. But the speaker admits that he must respect and acknowledge even this man. This man left also behind the unimportant activities of lifestyle. This man also was completely, totally transformed by his participation within the Rising. This event was highly destructive but also helped cause profound change.
The speaker suggests that folks who, just like the rebels, dedicate all their love, energy, and activity to at least one goal can sometimes start to look inhuman in their single-minded dedication. Like an unmoving stone during a moving stream, such people can disrupt the flow of ordinary life around them. most things in nature, whether animals, humans, or the weather, are during a state of constant change. Small events, sort of a cloud passing by above a stream or a horse’s foot slipping into the water, can have major consequences. The natural events of life, like wild birds mating, show that every animate thing must adapt every minute for its own survival. But stones simply exist within the same state.
The speaker suggests that folks who hand over an excessive amount of their lives to pursue unchanging goals may lose their ordinary human feelings. He first wonders when of these sacrifices are going to be enough to realize the goal, on the other hand, decides that it’s Heaven, or God’s, job to answer that question. the work for him and therefore the remainder of the community is just to recollect the dead with seriousness, respect, and love, even as a mother would watch her sleeping child with gravity and love when the kid has finally fallen asleep tips after running around during a frenzy. The speaker wonders if death could also be something temporary and comparatively painless, like sleeping through the night before awakening within the morning. He rejects that concept, however, to remind himself and therefore the reader that the rebels are truly dead and can not come. He next wonders if their deaths may are unnecessary. Britain may need to keep its promise to grant Ireland self-government, despite the nationalists’ mistrust of British. But again, the speaker decides it’s not his or the public’s job to answer that question. they do not get to know whether the rebels accomplished their goal; just knowing that they died for the sake of this goal is enough to earn the honor and respect. Still, the speaker cannot help wondering again if their extreme devotion to their goal may have clouded their judgment. But once more, he turns faraway from that speculation to recollect the dead rebels.
He lists by name a number of the Rising’s most vital leaders—MacDonagh, MacBride, Connolly, Pearse. He affirms that for the remainder of Ireland’s existence, whenever Irish gather to celebrate their country, these rebels are going to be honored, their identities having been completely transformed from that of ordinary people. The event was highly destructive but also helped cause profound change.