The Second Coming : quotations

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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.


The Second Coming” is a famous poem by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Here are some famous quotations from the poem, along with explanations:

Turning and turning in a widening gyre.

Explanation: This line describes a never-ending spiral, where time continually evolves and transitions into different phases. It’s akin to a relentless whirlwind, symbolizing the eternal change cycle.

The falcon cannot hear the falconer.

Explanation: In a more symbolic interpretation, this line portrays the profound disconnect between humanity and its guiding principles or values. Just as a lost bird cannot heed its master’s call, humanity seems adrift, detached from its moral compass or wisdom.

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.

Explanation: This line vividly illustrates a world in disarray, where the foundations of order and stability crumble. It symbolizes a critical breakdown in the balance of society, leading to chaos and uncertainty.

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Explanation: This line signifies the utter chaos and lawlessness that prevails in a world plunged into turmoil and conflict. The term “mere” underscores the magnitude of this anarchy, emphasizing its all-encompassing nature.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Explanation: This line remembers a disheartening reality. Virtuous and principled individuals lack the determination to influence events, while those with dishonorable intentions are fervent and zealous in their pursuits of power and control.

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

Explanation: In this context, the speaker reflects that the prevailing chaos and disorder might indicate Christ’s imminent return, signaling the impending apocalypse or a profound transformation of the world.

A vast image out of the Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight.

Explanation: The speaker’s vision is initiated by a colossal image emerging from the collective human memory or the shared wisdom of ages. This vision disturbs the speaker’s perception, suggesting a revelation that challenges their understanding of the world.

The darkness drops again; but now I know.

Explanation: With this line, the speaker expresses the end of a visionary experience, but it is not the end of understanding. Despite the vision’s conclusion, the speaker achieves newfound insight or awareness.

Twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle.

Explanation: This line suggests that for two millennia, a dormant force has been troubled and concerned by the advent of Christianity, symbolized by the “rocking cradle.” Now, This force has awakened and seeks to confront the Christian world.

What rough beast …
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Explanation: “Rough beast” illustrates a menacing and relentless entity, not feeble or lackadaisical. Moving toward Bethlehem for its rebirth, this entity conveys a profound threat to the Christian faith, suggesting a cataclysmic event or transformation is on the horizon.