Widening Gyre

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.


- Excerpted from The Second Coming by Bill Butler Yeats


Yeats was describing his own times around 1920. And it is said he was rather apocalyptically minded, believing the world was on the verge of some shattering event. Seeing as how he describes the arrival of a terrifying messiah (see other excerpt in comment below), it would seem Yeats believed that judgment day might not be a pretty sight. Being a bit of a doomsayer myself, I really relate to this terrifying little poem. There's absolutely nothing comforting about it. It's a poem you read on Halloween, or just at times when you're feeling dark and brooding. E. A. Poe had a deserved reputation for scary poetry, and I love Poe, but Yeats blows Edgar out of the water with The Second Coming.

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Taken on April 12, 2009