AP English Literature and Composition
Nothing lasts forever. Everything is short-lived, a cycle that undergoes change several times. Power, money, and possessions all disappear. William Butler Yeats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, in their respective poems, paint a picture in a sense that life is generally a cycle, and that change might not always be pleasant. Change is part of the order of life and in order for new life or power to emerge, there has to be a transformation.
In “The Second Coming,” the speaker recounts the world ending and that the world must accept its fate. He begins to describe a falcon, and how the falcon is circling into a “widening gyre” (Yeats1-2). This symbolizes how humanity is losing touch with nature, which foreshadows that something of great magnitude will happen. It appears as though the world is not how it used to be, due to the distancing of humanity. Humanity is about to experience a transformation, with the outcome to be determined. The speaker goes on to describe the current state of the world. Around the time William Butler Yeats wrote his poem, the world was at war. In his perspective, the world is being destroyed, due to the massive casualties and terrifying weaponry introduced during World War I. In the poem, the state of the world is described as “fall[ing] apart.”(Yeats 3) The world is literally in a state of chaos and anarchy. The speaker uses vivid images of chaos to convey the apocalyptic atmosphere. The end of the world looks to be around the corner, “Its hour come last.” (Yeats 21) The end of the world appears to be approaching, and it is only a matter of time before the world succumbs to its fate. Due to how catastrophic the First World War was the...