The Second Coming poem by W.B. Yeats summary line by line

The Second Coming poem by W.B. Yeats summary line by line

The Second Coming poem by W.B. Yeats summary line by line-In W.B. Yeats' The Second Coming, the poem offers a profound exploration of themes centered around societal upheaval, historical cycles, and the anticipatory sense of a monumental event. Penned in the aftermath of World War I, an era marked by political turmoil and cultural shifts, the poem encapsulates the tumultuous spirit of the time.

The Second Coming poem by W.B. Yeats summary line by line

The Second Coming poem by W.B. Yeats summary line by line-The title itself, drawing inspiration from the biblical concept of the Second Coming of Christ, serves as a potent metaphor, suggesting an imminent and transformative change. Through evocative imagery, symbolic language, and charged emotional tones, Yeats adeptly portrays a world in disarray, reflecting on the breakdown of established norms and the emergence of a new societal order. The poem functions as a meditation on the disorder of the era, contemplating the potential for either rejuvenation or catastrophe as history adheres to its inevitable cyclical patterns.

The Second Coming poem summary

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre"

The opening line suggests a cyclical motion, possibly representing a world in constant upheaval.

"The falcon cannot hear the falconer;"

There's a disconnection between the falcon and its falconer, hinting at a breakdown in control or order.

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"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;"

The central theme emerges: chaos and disorder as symbolized by the breaking apart of established structures.

"Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,"

Anarchy is unleashed, signaling a state of lawlessness and societal breakdown.

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"The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere"

The imagery intensifies with the mention of a blood-dimmed tide, suggesting violence and unrest spreading globally.

"The ceremony of innocence is drowned;"

Innocence is lost or destroyed, perhaps referring to the disruption of peaceful and stable conditions.

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst"

The best individuals lack conviction or certainty, while the worst are filled with intense, often destructive, passion.

"Are full of passionate intensity."

The contrast between the lack of conviction and the abundance of passionate intensity underscores the imbalance and turmoil.

"Surely some revelation is at hand;"

The speaker anticipates a revelation or significant event that might bring clarity or understanding.

"Surely the Second Coming is at hand."

The anticipation of a major event, possibly a symbolic Second Coming, intensifies.

"The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out"

The mention of the Second Coming triggers a response or vision.

"When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi"

A significant and expansive image emerges from the collective spirit of the world.

"Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert"

The speaker sees a troubling vision, set in the desert.

"A shape with a lion body and the head of a man,"

The description of a hybrid creature, possibly a symbol of power and authority.

"A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,"

The creature's gaze is described as indifferent and harsh.

"Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it"

The creature is in motion, and there are disturbances in its surroundings.

"Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds."

Imagery of disturbed birds in the desert adds to the unsettling atmosphere.

"The darkness drops again; but now I know"

The unsettling vision recedes, but the speaker gains a deeper understanding.

"That twenty centuries of stony sleep"

A reference to a long period of dormancy or stagnation.

"Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,"

The long period of dormancy was disturbed by a disturbing vision, likened to a rocking cradle.

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,"

A powerful and ominous beast is approaching, its time finally arriving.

"Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

The poem concludes with an eerie image of the beast moving ominously toward Bethlehem, a symbolic reference to a significant event or birth.

The Second Coming Poem Themes

Cycle of History and Apocalypse:

The poem contemplates the recurring patterns of history, suggesting that eras of stability inevitably give way to periods of upheaval. The reference to the "Second Coming" hints at an imminent and transformative event, symbolizing a significant shift in the world's course.

Chaos and Disintegration:

Yeats paints a vivid picture of a world in decay, where established structures and values crumble. Expressions like "Things fall apart" and "Mere anarchy is loosed" convey a sense of societal breakdown and disorder.

Loss of Control and Disconnect:

The metaphor of the falcon unable to heed its falconer represents a loss of control and breakdown in communication. This extends to broader societal contexts, where the center cannot maintain cohesion, indicating a profound disconnect and disarray.

Violence and Anarchy:

The poem vividly depicts a world ravaged by violence and anarchy, as seen in the imagery of the "blood-dimmed tide" and the drowning of the "ceremony of innocence." It explores the destructive forces unleashed during times of societal upheaval.

Imbalance and Intensity:

The stark contrast between "the best lack all conviction" and "the worst are full of passionate intensity" underscores a moral and societal imbalance. The fervent passion of the worst individuals, coupled with the lack of conviction among the best, contributes to the overall chaos.

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Anticipation and Revelation:

The poem conveys a palpable sense of anticipation regarding a revelation or significant event. The repetitive invocation of "Surely some revelation is at hand" and "Surely the Second Coming is at hand" builds an expectation of impending change or enlightenment.

Symbolism and Mythology:

Yeats employs rich symbolism and mythology, particularly in describing the "rough beast" with a lion's body and a man's head. This symbolic creature embodies a potent and ominous force poised to be unleashed upon the world.

Spiritual and Cosmic Vision:

The Second Coming poem by W.B. Yeats summary line by line-The poem delves into spiritual and cosmic dimensions, referencing the "Spiritus Mundi" (spirit of the world) and envisioning a transformative event. The Second Coming is portrayed as a monumental occurrence with profound cosmic implications.

Time and Dormancy:

The concept of "twenty centuries of stony sleep" suggests an extended period of dormancy or stagnation. The disturbance of this dormancy by a disconcerting vision emphasizes the inexorable passage of time and the inevitability of change.

Desolation and Eerie Imagery:

Set against a backdrop of a desert, the poem employs eerie imagery, such as the creature with a "gaze blank and pitiless as the sun," evoking a sense of desolation and foreboding. The use of vivid and haunting images aims to elicit a powerful emotional response.


In conclusion, W.B. Yeats' "The Second Coming" stands as a powerful and enigmatic exploration of the tumultuous times in which it was written. The poem captures the essence of a world in flux, grappling with the aftermath of war and the uncertainties of a changing society.

The Second Coming poem by W.B. Yeats summary line by line-Through rich symbolism, vivid imagery, and profound themes, Yeats paints a portrait of a world on the brink of transformation, using the metaphor of the Second Coming to convey both anticipation and foreboding. The cyclical nature of history, the breakdown of established orders, and the potential for apocalyptic change are masterfully woven into the fabric of this poetic masterpiece.


1. What inspired W.B. Yeats to write "The Second Coming"?

W.B. Yeats wrote "The Second Coming" in the aftermath of World War I, a period marked by significant social and political upheaval. The poem reflects the poet's response to the turbulent events of his time, including the war, the Russian Revolution, and the shifting cultural landscape.

2. What is the significance of the title "The Second Coming"?

The title refers to the biblical concept of the Second Coming of Christ, a prophesied event in Christian theology. In Yeats' poem, the title is used metaphorically to suggest a momentous and transformative change or rebirth on a global scale.

3. What themes are prevalent in "The Second Coming"?

The poem explores themes of historical cycles, societal disintegration, chaos, imbalance, and the anticipation of a significant event. Yeats uses vivid imagery and symbolism to convey a sense of foreboding and a world in the throes of transformation.

4. How does Yeats use symbolism in the poem?

Yeats employs rich symbolism, including the falcon and falconer, the "blood-dimmed tide," the "ceremony of innocence," and the "rough beast." These symbols contribute to the poem's exploration of disarray, societal breakdown, and the potential for a transformative event.



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