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William Butler Yeats; "The Second Coming" and Richard Wilbur's "Advice to a Prophet" have in common that they are both apocalyptic poems, blending Christian and non-Christian symbols to address issues pertaining to the end of the world. In both poems, the poets confront human moral failure in face of annihilation. In Yeats' poem, "the best lack all conviction" and in Wilbur's what is lacking is pity. The main difference between the two poems is historical. Yeats' eschatology is entirely located within a religious realm of history interpreted spiritually, but Wilbur's responds to the nuclear bomb and the possibility of humanity's end in a nuclear winter. Thus for your essay, you might focus on how technological change affects the ways in which the two poets approach the apocalypse.
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