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4.17.04 Slouching toward Bethlehem

Somehow in the past few weeks, I've turned into a news hound. Maybe the world is simply more full of "news" than it has been for a while. It has become such a dangerous place. It's funny... years ago I looked up a poem by William Butler Yeats. It was so dark -- about the coming of the Antichrist -- and I thought at the time how those dark days seemed to have ended in the peace and prosperity that ended the 20th century.

Now the words seem relevant again:

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
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.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?

My book says this was written by Yeats in January 1919, on the occasion of the Black and Tan War in Ireland, when British auxiliary troops were sent in to put down the republicans. He referred to the poem again in 1938 as Fascism was on the rise in Europe: "Every nerve trembles with horror at what is happening in Europe. 'The ceremony of innocence is drowned.'"

The only question really is who precisely is the Antichrist? I think the Antichrist is one of those witches-brew creatures made up of the souls of Osama bin-Ladin and George Bush and maybe some of Dick Cheney and Ariel Sharon.

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