Sal Pizarro: A favorite poem

The Second Coming
William Butler Yeats

Like many people, I first learned “The Second Coming” in high school(thank you, Ms. Cecile Shea), but it has stuck with me in the two decades since. The imagery of many poems lies flat, waiting for the reader or listener to pick it up. But Yeats’ imagery in this poem stands up and demands attention. It is powerful stuff when you’re 17 years old, and it’s only become more vivid as I’ve gotten older.

Sal Pizarro
Around Town columnist
San Jose Mercury News

The Second Coming

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 conviction, 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?

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)


1 Comment

Filed under Favorites of Local Leaders

One response to “Sal Pizarro: A favorite poem

  1. Pingback: Favorite Poems: Final project reading at Palo Alto Books Inc. | poetlaureateblog

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