Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Tower

Chaotic Minds, Chaotic Societies: "The Second Coming" by W.B. Yeats 12th Grade

In 1919, the year “The Second Coming” was written, World War I, one of the deadliest wars in history, had just ended and Ireland was in the throes of a war to fight British control. Tensions between Catholics and Protestants and those of different socioeconomic statuses were threatening to boil over at any moment. Seeing all the violence and conflicts around him, William Butler Yeats, an Irish-born poet, believed that they were omens of more to come. In his poem, Yeats uses dark, chaotic imagery to highlight his apprehension toward society’s bleak future resulting from the breakdown of the binding force of religious values and to show that societal phenomena are mirrors for the state of people’s minds. Through his turbulent, violent descriptions, Yeats creates a vivid image of severe chaos, which is reflective of his view of the general human mindset at that time, and sends a shiver down the reader’s spine.

The poem opens up by conjuring a strong anxiety in the reader with the words “[t]urning and turning”, almost as if the foundations our morals are built on are swirling faster and faster, and illustrating that people’s minds are becoming increasingly dizzy and confused. Yeats condemns that the noble values people are taught “...

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