Monday, July 5, 2010

Tuesday Poem: William Butler Yeats

The Second Coming

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?


I bought this dishcloth in Ireland last summer,
and recently pulled it out from a suitcase
where it's sat for the past year.
Before using, I ran it through the wash,
and upon using it, noticed that Yeats appears
to be crying, where the stitching has pulled.
What terrible calamity has befallen us
that has caused the great poet to weep?
Ah yes, "the blood-dimmed tide is loosed"
foretells the gash in the ocean's floor
in the Gulf Coast --
And as poet, I believe that this tear-shedding dishcloth
trumps every single slice of toast bearing the image of Jesus.



For more Tuesday Poets click here.


  1. this poem always leaves me with the chills.

    odd thing about that dishtowel.....

  2. That's a great souvenir, and one that, I'm certain, will improve with age. Cro.

  3. I have always loved this poem. A grand choice, even if I feel somewhat zen about tea towels, ie 'the tea towel is just a tea towel". :-)

  4. That's excellent, T Clear! Must be worth a fortune; you could auction it on your blog.
    Belinda ubbk

  5. It's no wonder he is quoted so often is it?
    Joni Mitchell has recently made a song with some of these lines in it - it's great listening.

  6. How astonishing you chose this poem! I thought of it when I read the hub poem by Stephen Crane - Claire B commented on it too. And then here it is - quite randomly. I love the TP blog connections...

  7. Not exactly sure why, but last night I watched Avatar, (I know, well behind the curve), and then after reading your post this morning, I can't help feeling like I've been slapped in the head by the Universe this morning.
    Thanks for the wake-up call.

  8. Hi T. The synergies are soooo fascinating... As Mary McC says, I commented on The Second Coming on the TP hub and just yesterday hung a work on the 'Blend' exhibition painted with this poem in mind and borrowing its title from it... 'Surely some revelation must be at hand.' It's part of an ongoing series of G ULF paintings I've been working on. I read another reference to Yeats' poem on a blog or website (have lost track of which one it was) yesterday, too. We all dip our cups into the global wellspring... comforting, really. Thanks.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I like this one:

    I, the poet, William Yeats
    With old mill boars and sea-green
    And smithy work from the Gort forge
    Did restore this tower for my wife George
    And may these characters remain
    When all is ruin once again

    Etched in stone at the Yeats Tower in Thoor Ballylee (County Clare).

    WV: pubsidy