Can You Describe The Poem, 'The Second Coming' By William Butler Yeats?


2 Answers

Florent Lefortier Profile
The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats is a modernist poem, written in 1919. It was first published in 1920, in the American magazine The Dial.

What Is The Second Coming About?
The Second Coming compares post-war Europe to the apocalypse. Essentially, the poem uses a Christian allegory to describe the atmosphere in Europe after the First World War had ended.

Why Does William Butler Yeats Compare Post-War Europe To The Apocalypse?
Well, if you think of the apocalypse as the end of the world, then William Butler Yeats is suggesting that the world as he knows it is coming to an end. Everything is different, and the future is still uncertain - although the war has ended, the atmosphere is still pretty hostile.

Unlike the Christian idea of the end of the world, the apocalypse described in The Second Coming doesn't come with the possibility of redemption. Instead, it suggests a weird, alien future which is represented by the sphinx-like creature "with lion body and the head of a man".
Will Martin Profile
Will Martin answered
In Yeats's view, the world was changing and the civilisation of his day was about to be replaced by a new order. Years after the poem was written, when Fascism and war were plaguing Europe, he wrote to a friend that the Second Coming had "predicted the kind of world we are moving into."

You can find quite an interesting overview of this poem, and information about its background, if you click here. There is also a good essay at the Humbold Education website.

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