From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Second Coming

The Second Coming

  

by William Butler Yeats

The Second Coming Good vs. Evil Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Line)

Quote #1

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. (lines 5-8)

These lines are a big part of the reason that the poem has resonated with so many people in the 20th century. They "blood-dimmed tide" hints at the huge mass movements like Fascism and Communism that "drowned" out the few, timid pockets of reason that remained. The good people are like couch potatoes who aren’t motivated to doing anything.

Quote #2

A gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun (line 15)

"Blank and pitiless" seems scary and menacing, but is it evil? We think it’s more of an animal indifference, like staring into the eyes of a hungry grizzly bear, or at a scorching sun.

Quote #3

And what rough beast (line 21)

Again, the amoral, animal nature is highlighted by the "beast." He’s going to be "rough" with us, but that’s not the same as being vicious or brutal. Sometimes it takes a violent shake to snap society out of its funk.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement