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Yeats's Second Coming
am 30. Juni 1997
It has long seemed that although Yeat is the best poet in English in our century, Eliot wrote the best poem. For "The Waste Land" captured a spiritual doubt and hunger that started between the wars and remained with us as a kind of heavy inertia; how can we make our lives meaningful, Eliot asked, and showed us that we have no idea where to start. But now such lethargy seems almost quaint; we don't now doubt what to do, but rather we do and doubt where it shall take us. What if all our global, unified and unifying efforts are taking us somewhere terrible? Yeats's poem "The Second Coming" now seems the true herald of our time.
Finneran's edition includes this poem in context, in its order in the development of Yeats's work. Read it as Yeat meant it to be read: followed by his equally great poem "A Prayer for my Daughter," where he offers hope in the beauty and innocence of personal ceremony. In a crowded, generic time, Yeats's poems are themselves ceremonies.