I won’t get any prizes for being original in my taste or thinking, but I’m kind of proud of having latched on to my favorite poem almost the moment I grew to be a man and left childish things behind.
It was published in 1921. It’s theme is so prescient hat, a century later, when history fails to produce a Rough Beast(a Hitler, Stalin, Mao), we invent one in our imagination (as we’re doing with Donald Trump now–on both sides), even if we call him something else.
More about that later, some day when I’m up to it. For now, just know that, as a Scottish realist, I have no problem admitting that the mystic Irishman saw all:
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?
William Butler Yeats (1921)
And ya’ll know Eddie’s rewrite don’t you?