The Second Coming

Heaven’s Yeats: An Eroded Eschatology in "The Second Coming" College

Yeats’s “The Second Coming” continues the age-old tradition of man’s vague plea for annihilation and subsequent rebirth. Whether in religious doctrine, political theory, or artistic movement, there seems to exist a very human desire for second chances. Some argue that this change is dialectical, and that our construction of the Crystal Palace will be through gradual reforms and conscious solidarity in what would certainly be a celebration of humanistic achievement. Others are of an opinion that is, if not wholly cynical, certainly dubious towards the idea that rebirth can be a peaceful process. In this camp we find, wedged amongst almost every major world religion, William Butler Yeats. “The Second Coming” is Yeats’s Revelation text, in which he sees what he considers the degradation of society through forces of entropy until finally some great outside force reverts us to a tabula rasa state. The poem asserts, perhaps mistakenly, perhaps pleadingly, that we are rounding the final bend of our Christian Kali Yuga, and that after twenty centuries, the much-heralded other shoe is poised for its descent to the floor. In what is perhaps unfortunate for Yeats the Revelator, “The Second Coming,” like most pieces of doomsday philosophy,...

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