Why does William Butler Yeats end the poem "The Second Coming" in a question?

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In this poem, the speaker seems to suggest that the world, after the first coming of Jesus Christ, has gone terribly wrong. "Things [have] fall[en] apart" and "anarchy" has been "loosed upon the world." There have been horrible wars and destruction, and the world seems to have lost its innocence, especially after the Great War, what we now refer to as World War I. The best, most moral people "lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity." The good do not feel strongly enough to act on their morals and effect change, while the bad work passionately. What should be good is bad and what is bad is good; nothing is what it should be considering the peace and love advocated by God.

In the second group of lines, the speaker considers the idea that "the Second Coming is at hand," and it will not be Jesus but, rather, some monstrous animal with "A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun" who comes because this is what we deserve. We have made a hell of this paradise, and those "twenty centuries of stony sleep" will now result in a terrifying and dreadful punishment. This monster, this "beast" that "Slouches towards Bethlehem" is unknowable and unpredictable, especially because we so deserve the consequences it comes to deliver. The poem ends with a question because we cannot know this monster or the punishments it will inflict upon us. It's like a cliffhanger: it will be bad, but how bad?

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Yeats wrote this poem to express the anxiety he and others felt at the end of World War I, the sense that a new age was coming in world history and not necessarily a good one. The old order was over, and the center hadn't held: After a century of stunning technological progress, instead of life becoming better and more peaceful, violence had been unleashed through a bloody, pointless war. The poem reflects the anxiety people experienced in a world that felt unmoored from the stable, secure order of the nineteenth century. As Yeats stated it, "the blood-dimmed tide [was] lose" and "the ceremony of innocence is drowned." Yeats conjures images of a pitiless beast "slouching" towards Jerusalem, the city for many centuries a symbol of religious stability and civilization. The poem ending on a question emphasizes the uncertainty of the future: we simply don't know what is going to happen next, but the future is worrisome.

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