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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,
- In the very beginning, he explains a moment of great change. A falconer is a person with a glove that guides and teaches the falcon (a bird of prey), but now the falcon is not being guided; hes alone.
- People can't hear us anymoroe. The falconer signified stability. However, now there is non.
- 'mere' anarchy is apparently the lesser of their fears
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.
- The tide signifies violence.
- There was a sense of innocence and now it is gone
- The best, which are those who can think well, are lost and don't know what to believe in or how to believe; they distrust the passionate
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;
- This is a shift because he sounds optimistic, with the 'surely'
- He states that in these critical moments, people will believe any new idea
- He even finds it meaningful for a minute, until he says 'hardly' which brings him back to reality
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.
- This is an image of a sphinx
- Yeats says that religion goes long before Christianity
- He gives us a riddle with the answer being man
- he also reaises a question about religious certainty
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?
- "I know"= now he is certain
- Twenty centuries= 2000 years from the birth of Jesus (period of stony sleep)
- Christianity was a nightmare and cause of violence, while also numbing people to violence
- What is next, he asks. What beast will provide stability