Sunday, February 17, 2013


Sometimes I wish I could sit down with our friend William Butler Yeats and ask him about that old widening gyre. Did he curse us with it, or was it just there waiting for him to point out to us? 

Can we escape it, or are we doomed to keep on cycling and cycling, centrifugal forces pulling us further asunder until, endlessly, things fall apart. Is it possible to slow the spin? Or to strap ourselves in so that we avoid the eventual collapse? Are we, at best, improving on the previous cycles? Bathed in blood. Innocence spent. I can see why Romantic poets smoked so much opium.

The Second Coming
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?

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