127. The Second Coming: W. B. Yeats

I am tackling the utopia/dystopia unit. We began with creating civilizaiton from nothing, in the woods behind our school, and have moved towards our current U.S. attempts to make that “city on the hill”, as Reagan dreamed. Next stop, genocide, as we tackle the Tragedy of the Commons.

But, while we are reading Lois Lowry’s “The Giver”, we take a moment to evaluate where we are headed. “The center will not hold,” but the kids don’t know that yet. They are building their utopian villages and solving the world’s problems.

Focus on the phrases. Yeats is a like a series of well written, depressing bumper stickers. The center will not hold, indeed.

Focus on the words. Slouching!

I will let Yeats give them something to think about.

The Second Coming
W.B. Yeats

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?

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