My Library-Yeats and now

I love reading. I love books.  My parents indulged my passion was I was growing up. When I was 14, my love affair with Yeats started. The cause was Liam Clancy. He recited excerpts of Yeats’ The Second Coming in concert. With an adolescent sense of drama I embraced it. My parents gave me this collection of Yeats for my 14th birthday.

I treasure it. Tonight I opened the book again looking for the poem–though I can recite it from memory. I felt compelled, for the first time in years, to lay eyes on it.

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Yeats wrote in in 1919 at the end of the bloodiest of conflicts. Read against the history of 1920-1939 it seems prophetic, a warning. Yeats died  in January, 1939 before the full horror of his vision visited itself upon the world, but he traced its outline.

Tonight I opened it the book again, looking for The Second Coming.

I’ve thought of the poem a few times over the years. Always in a fleeting way.  The phrase “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of a passionate intensity.” was always there, a handy quote when the situation seemed to warrant it.

But nothing in my life has really warranted it’s deployment –until now. It’s not a poem about the past any longer. It’s about the here and now. And what rough beast, indeed, is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.

 

 

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