Today, we face a planetwide pandemic and increasing interpersonal strife. Let us look back a hundred years and two, to 1919. The world faced one of the worst pandemics in world history, and the aftermath of the second worst war in world history.
In that context, W. B. Yeats wrote the following poem, “The Second Coming”. I’d like to type out this poem, and I’d like everyone to read it.
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 a lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving is 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 silence
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Stare into the face of the danger, but remember that we are descendants of survivors of the catastrophes that inspired this poem.