W. B. Yeats          
    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: 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, 
    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 
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, 
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, 
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats, ed. Richard J. Finneran
New York: Macmillan, 1989
  • The Second Coming
    •  In Matt. 24, Christ predicts "the coming of the Son of man" after a time of great tribulation, 
        widespread  warfare, and natural disasters.  Yeats believed that about every 2000 years  
        the trend of history reversed itself and a new age began
  • gyre
      Here the image is that of a falcon leaving the falconer's wrist and soaring upward in ever  
       widening circles, which finally become so wide that the falconer's control is lost.  
      Yeats uses the image of the gyre to represent a historical cycle, which begins with a point of intensity and as it develops spread farther and farther from the center that gives it its character.   Yeats could have said that our Christian era of 2000 years got less and less Christ like, until now it has almost reached an extreme of diffusion and will come to an end as the reverse process, symbolized by the "rough beast," is about to begin.   
      interpenetrating cones:  when the first reaches its  point of greatest diffusion, the inner one will be activated at its fine point and begin a downward spiral that reverses, unwinds, undoes the course of the first.
  • Spiritus Mundi
    • "The Spirit of the World" ...a kind of psychic pool of inherited images in which all human minds share and from which they can draw. (from The Harper Anthology of Poetry.  Ed. John Frederick Nim.   NY: Harper, 1981, p. 464)   
      background taken from "Modernity" in World Cultures