(note from Poet Laureate: This poem was selected simultaneously by two different community leaders, appearing earlier as Sal Pizzaro’s favorite. However, each choice is both personally and uniquely different, and I decided to bookend these “notable” contributions rather than list them together. Here, our final installation from a local elected official, Christopher R. Moylan, with much appreciation to all who contributed their thoughts during the project kickoff. More news on the beginning of community postings to follow).
The Second Coming
William Butler Yeats
It sure is hard to pick one favorite poem. It is very tempting to pick one of the great poems that seem to be about poetry itself, such as “The Red Wheelbarrow” by Williams, or “Anecdote of the Jar” by Stevens (particularly since Stevens had two careers, insurance executive and poet, just like many of us city councilmembers who have a day job and then a half-time government job). I have always loved Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” and it is a cautionary tale for those of us who are serving in government.
But given the times we live in, the one that most resonates with me as a local elected official, particularly one of Irish descent, is “The Second Coming” by Yeats. Over and over these days, I find, like Yeats, that “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Unless those of us who have been selected for this duty can keep our heads, things will indeed fall apart and the center will not hold.
Christopher R. Moylan
Council Member, City of Sunnyvale
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)