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A brief explication of "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats, from Janie McKinney jmckinney@equinoxusa.com.

You're right about Yeats' vision in being that of a collapsing world. Yeats had his own theory about the cycles of history, the simple version of which is this:

All of time is divided into 2000-year cycles with alternating ascendancy of Good and Evil. We are just finishing up a cycle in which Good was ascendant (dating from the birth of Christ and the Christ-presence in the world), and what we are seeing is the coming of the period of Evil ascendancy. It is ironic poetic license that he sees this new avatar as being born, as Christ was, in Bethlehem. But notice the differences between this new avatar and Christ. Since this is the beginning of a 2000-year cycle of evil, it is a "rough beast" and it is already "slouching" toward Bethlehem. The world is in for a difficult 2000 years! It is indeed a dark poetic vision.

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