The Second Coming
The Second Coming
by William Butler Yeats

The Second Coming Good vs. Evil Quotes Page 1

How we cite the 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.

Next Page: Society and Class Quotes
Previous Page: Themes

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