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The Second Coming : literary devices

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The Second Coming is a notable literary work by William Butler Yeats. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of The Second Coming.

literary devices

W.B. Yeats utilizes several critical literary devices in his poem “The Second Coming” to create a sense of mystery, foreboding, and complexity. Some of the critical literary devices used in the poem include:

Allusion: Yeats mentions numerous references to historical and mythological events, figures, and texts, such as the “widening gyre,” alluding to the concept of gyres in Yeats’s mythology and “Spiritus Mundi” referencing William Butler Yeats’s philosophy of history.

Symbolism: The poem is rich in symbolism with various images and metaphors.  Each symbol is used to convey deeper meanings. For instance, the “falcon” and the “falconer” symbolize the breakdown of control and authority. While the “rough beast” symbolizes chaos and destruction.

Imagery: Yeats utilizes vivid and often unsettling imagery to paint a picture of a world in turmoil. The poem is full of sensory descriptions.  It makes a sense of chaos and apocalypse, such as “blood-dimmed tide,” “slouching towards Bethlehem,” and “gyres.”

Metaphor: The poem uses metaphors to convey its central ideas. The “centre cannot hold” metaphorically represents the world’s breakdown of order and stability. At the same time, the “ceremony of innocence is drowned” metaphorically suggests the loss of innocence and idealism.

Personification: Yeats personifies abstract concepts, giving them human-like qualities. For example, “The falcon cannot hear the falconer” displays the relationship between authority and those it governs.

Paradox: The poem contains paradoxical elements that add to its sense of disorientation and uncertainty. The idea of a “rough beast” being born in Bethlehem is a paradox, as Bethlehem is associated with peace and the birth of Christ.

Repetition: Repetition is used for intensity and to create a sense of rhythm and structure in the poem. “turning and turning in the widening gyre” and “Surely some revelation is at hand” recur to underline key ideas.

Diction: Yeats’s choice of words is carefully selected to create a specific tone and atmosphere in the poem. He mentions archaic and mystical language to contribute to the sense of foreboding and mystery.

These literary devices combine to make “The Second Coming” a highly symbolic and enigmatic poem. It invites multiple interpretations and continues to captivate readers with its complexity and depth.