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