How does Yeats describe the anarchy in the world in "The Second Coming"?
WB Yeats' "The Second Coming" is full of imagery that depicts the anarchy and chaos that he saw, and which he believed to be the forerunner of some large scale apocalypse.
From the very opening lines, we have these images succeeding one upon the other:
1. the 'falcon' (i.e. representing man) cannot hear the 'falconer' (i.e. God), in other words the religious/spiritual side of life has weakened and people no longer have faith and belief.
2. Things are falling apart, the whole world order, social systems, the old and traditional values and ethics and ways, that used to be at the 'centre' of society, can no longer hold things together as the 'super glue' that once held this whole edifice.
3. Blood and violence and anarchy are common in the streets.
4. Human innocence and goodness, selfishness, altruism, mutual help and love and esteem are all 'drowned'.
5. Good people (i.e. 'the best') are weak and helpless and unable to defend or stand up for their beliefs and principles and ideals--whereas the bad people (i.e the 'worst') are passionate and strong and able to sway crowds and mobs and lead them with conviction and strength, despite their ideas being evil or unprincipled.
6. Perhaps the biggest 'sign' of anarchy and apocalypse as the world collapses and the 'Second Coming' (of Christ) is awaited, is the coming or appearance of the 'vast evil shape', the Anti-Christ, which arises out of the desert and comes to trouble the poet's thoughts and visions. This is a larger, supernatural symbol, arising straight out of the 'Anima Mundi'.
All of these signs together add up to a very bleak and hopeless scenario-- and the poet isnt even sure what will in due course come out of this nightmarish vision: will the Second Coming of Christ 2000 years after the first be a similar redemption for humanity; or will it in fact be an inversion and bring a Beast, an Anti-Christ, instead of the Christ? Disturbing indeed. And a very finely written poem.