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What is the symbolical significance of using the falcon & falconer in the poem "The...

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ocean | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 23, 2009 at 4:52 PM via web

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What is the symbolical significance of using the falcon & falconer in the poem "The Second Coming"?

Describe for me what is Yeat's intention in using these symbols please.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 23, 2009 at 9:45 PM (Answer #1)

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Yeats starts his famous poem "The Second Coming" with the image of a falcon turning about in the sky, far away from the falconer who released it. The falcon continues to turn and turn further away from the falconer. It is clear how Yeats views this:

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,

A number of possible interpretations exist as to what this image represents. Some argue that it represents the new generation in the time of Yeats who have forsaken the artistic forms and conventions of their parents and are striking out and inventing new expressions of art and thought. This image therefore represents the death knell of the Christian era and the violent new age that will be ushered in. The poem was written in 1920 at a time when Yeats thought that Christianity's primacy in the world was all but over. Another interpretation argues that the falcon and falconer represent a division of the intellect and the emotion - that the two are separated and cannot be reunited.

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