The second stanza, if anything, is more bleak and uncompromising than the first and is incredible in the way that it paints a horrifying picture of the future that the speaker anticipates will befall humanity. As the speaker builds up our expectations by predicting "The Second Coming " in...
Biblical terms, ironically the only thing that is shown to be stirring is a sphinx-like figure that moves itself threateningly. The speaker sees the world's spirit, or "Spiritus Mundi" depicted in the following way:
A shape with the 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 gaze of this creature being "blank and pitiless as the sun" clearly summarises the lack of hope for the future that the poet sees. This is of course exacerbated by the ending which alludes to another birth of Jesus but making it very different:
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
This "rough beast" could symbolise totalitarianism, warfare or inhumanity. Clearly the poem paints a dire prophecy which probably Yeats conceived after the events of WWI which led him to believe that humans were slipping back into their former savage state dominated by chaos.