Despair

November 9, 2016

Maybe, sometime in the future, hope will return.  For now, this is the poem speaks to me.

 

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 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?

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15 Comments

  • Reply Fredric Koeppel November 9, 2016 at 10:31 am

    all too real. I thought of “I woke and felt the fell of dark, not day…”

    • Reply sharonbryanpoet November 9, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Yes, that too. The end of the country I knew: unbearable.

  • Reply Suzanne November 9, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I thought of this exact poem too but had forgotten the last stanza.

  • Reply John Reed November 9, 2016 at 11:24 am

    “It’s the end of the world as we know it,” and I feel anything but fine.

  • Reply eileen cleary November 9, 2016 at 11:36 am

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44134
    Sarah Lain posted this poem this morning and I feel it in my core.

  • Reply Susan Wood November 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I’m so sad and full of despair right now that nothing, not even poetry, is a consolation.

    • Reply sharonbryanpoet November 9, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      Me too. That’s why the Yeats poem speaks to me–no hopefulness, just dread.

  • Reply Anne Pitkin November 9, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I have nothing to add to the above. Such grief I’m feeling. So much we’re losing. And to think that this demagogue has the House and the Senate at his bidding. The Second Coming–yes.

  • Reply judith taylor November 9, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Sharon, this poem speaks truth to America’s today. But after despair, anger will be appropriate, and necessary.

  • Reply Sarah Gorham November 9, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Music to grieve by. Thank you Sharon.

  • Reply Sharon Klander November 9, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    I’m too numb to feel anything today.

  • Reply Michelle Boisseau November 10, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    What I thought of was this, from Lapis; as a matter of fact about a month ago, I taught it as a class visitor. Of course it was one of Yeats’ last and it was scary times then, 1939. We were dancing to Cole Porter in our kitchen last night. One must sing, and dance, so as to keep ones spirits up.

    On their own feet they came, or on shipboard,
    Camel-back, horse-back, ass-back, mule-back,
    Old civilisations put to the sword.
    Then they and their wisdom went to rack:
    No handiwork of Callimachus
    Who handled marble as if it were bronze,
    Made draperies that seemed to rise
    When sea-wind swept the corner, stands;
    His long lamp chimney shaped like the stem
    Of a slender palm, stood but a day;
    All things fall and are built again
    And those that build them again are gay.

    Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
    Are carved in Lapis Lazuli,
    Over them flies a long-legged bird
    A symbol of longevity;
    The third, doubtless a serving-man,
    Carries a musical instrument.

    Every discolouration of the stone,
    Every accidental crack or dent
    Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
    Or lofty slope where it still snows
    Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
    Sweetens the little half-way house
    Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
    Delight to imagine them seated there;
    There, on the mountain and the sky,
    On all the tragic scene they stare.
    One asks for mournful melodies;
    Accomplished fingers begin to play.
    Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
    Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.

    • Reply sharonbryanpoet November 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      It’s interesting that Yeats speaks to us so powerfully right now. Thanks for this.

  • Reply Frances Donovan November 20, 2016 at 6:39 am

    “The center cannot hold” feels particularly apropos.

    • Reply sharonbryanpoet November 20, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      I agree. Thus the feelings of nausea and disorientation.

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