Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Poetry Appreciation: The Second Coming

As April is National Poetry Appreciation month, I decided I would share some of my favorite poetry with you.

I don't read much poetry. I have a difficult time finding the poems that I really love, because so many of them don't interest me at all. However, there are some poems that I read and connect with instantly--with the rhythm, and the words, and how it rolls off the tongue. This is one of those poems.

"The Second Coming" by William 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?

I love this poem so much.

The words used are the first thing that I find so wonderful. In the first stanza alone we get "mere anarchy" and "blood-dimmed tide" and "ceremony of innocence." Every word does an excellent job of conjuring up the exact imagery necessary for that portion of the poem. And likewise, every word has a purpose in the poem.

The way everything rolls off your tongue is also so beautiful. This poem needs to be read aloud, because it sounds so good read aloud. All of the words fit with each other--it's so hard to explain, but something is there that makes this poem amazing when it's spoken.

Poems are meant to be spoken, I think, and the best ones are the poems that embrace that to its full extent.

Do you read poetry? If so, what are your favorite poems?

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