Need to know what the symbols mean in the poem by W.B. Yates, The Second Coming?
Give me the poem and maybe I can help you.
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 convictions, 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?
Yeats is referring to the book of Revelation from the Bible. Go here to read this account:
Yup, it's mostly Revelation, for sure.
The FALCON may not be there. All you have to know is that falcons are trained to KILL (mostly rabbits and smaller birds), and they are trained so they become totally obedient to their trainer's whistles. A falcon that "cannot hear the falconer" would be a trained killer set loose on the world.
The "shape with lion body and the head of a man [and] slow thighs" is a Revelation monster, and I think it's ALSO the Sphinx.
And (this may be obvious) "twenty centuriess" = 2,000 years since the first coming.
Yep, every 2k years a change, completing the circle each 26k years.
I would say he was dumb as a bag of boulders except for the current Islamic thing.
Well, the thing about prophecy is that it's ALWAYS right, because (in the words of a notable prophet, KJV): there is nothing new under the sun.
To add to what Marian has said, the falcon has long been a symbol for God's mastery over the earth. Compare this by the priest/poet Gerard Manley Hopkins:
I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, - the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins
Do you need to train a falcon to kill, any more than you need to train a cat? Now training it it to come when called and give up its prey to you, that's a different matter.
From what I understand about falconry, the relationship between the bird and the handler is not one of 'total obedience,' but rather a negotiated truce- the birds are wild after all, and if they choose to fly away, you can't go catch them. Perhaps it's not that the falcon CAN'T hear the falconer, but that she isn't listening. (Of course, this theory assumes that Yeats knew something about falconry)
"the falcon has long been a symbol for God's mastery over the earth"
THANK YOU, Les -- this is new info for me.
I yield to all those who know more (i.e., ANYTHING) about falcons than I do.
Here's another poem which likens God to the falcon:
he Falconer of God
By William Rose Benet
I flung my soul to the air like a falcon flying.
I said, "Wait on, wait on, while I ride below!
I shall start a heron soon
In the marsh beneath the moon --
A strange white heron rising with silver on its wings,
Rising and crying
Wordless, wondrous things;
The secret of the stars, of the world's heart-strings,
The answer to their woe.
Then stoop thou upon him, and grip and hold him so!"
My wild soul waited on as falcons hover.
I beat the reedy fens as I trampled past.
I heard the mournful loon
In the marsh beneath the moon.
And then -- with feathery thunder -- the bird of my desire
Broke from the cover
Flashing silver fire.
High up among the stars I saw his pinions spire.
The pale clouds gazed aghast
As my falcon stoopt upon him, and gript and held him fast.
My soul dropt through the air -- with heavenly plunder? --
Gripping the dazzling bird my dreaming knew?
Nay! but a piteous freight,
A dark and heavy weight
Despoiled of silver plumage, its voice forever stilled, --
All of the wonder
Gone that ever filled
Its guise with glory. Oh, bird that I have killed,
How brilliantly you flew
Across my rapturous vision when first I dreamed of you!
Yet I fling my soul on high with new endeavor,
And I ride the world below with a joyful mind.
I shall start a heron soon
In the marsh beneath the moon --
A wondrous silver heron its inner darkness fledges!
I beat forever
The fens and the sedges.
The pledge is still the same -- for all disastrous pledges,
All hopes resigned!
My soul still flies above me for the quarry it shall find.
Fabulous. Thanks, Les!
The "rough beast" is a manticore, not a sphinx. Yeats went in for occultusm and thought that the "great days" of earth changed every two thousand years. There are quite a few books on Yeats's mythology which might help, or google.
How do we know its a manticore? There's no mention of the scorpion tail.
The beast in Revelation is all symbolic (obviously) it talks about having horns, several different heads, etc. Parts of the beast represent nations, and the fact that these beasts come together to form one beast refers to a United Nations-type of government. There is a "whore" that sits atop the beast. It is believed by many that she is symbolic to the Catholic church.
Tough to find good manticore pictures. Here is one site; note the two "image, image" links for other ideas:
I obviously saw an inadequate description: no mention of a scorpion's tail.
The only other creature I could find with the head of a man and the body of a lion was the Lamassu, so Yeats had to mean one of those three. Prolly doesn't matter which, though.
Hugh wrote: "Tough to find good manticore pictures" -
But the one ones Hugh found are marvelous!
(Really hard to get good photos--perhaps that's what Hugh meant.)
The real problem is trying to get Medusa pictures- your camera turns to stone!
I hate it when that happens!
Thanks Hugh I met a woman just yesterday and when I got home I couldn't discribe her to my wife ,"bag of boulders" is perfect.
Everyone thought she was bright! LOL
PLEASE INTERPRET THE POEM WHAT ARE THE MAJOR THEMES AND HOW DO THEY EXPRESS THE VARIOS LINES OF THE POEM
the second coming, yeats. iv to do a dissertation on that, the waste land, Elliot, and strange meeting by wilfred owens
it would help yes
It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,-
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said that other, "save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also, I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now... "
-- Wilfred Owen
What kind of dissertation? Compare & contrast? Lots of 'G' words in the Owens piece. I wonder why he thought that important. Off-rhymes as well.