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Subbing January 29, 2008

Posted by Tim in Observations, Poetry.

So, I’m at my old high school subbing for an English teacher today.  I just finished reading over the material for today, and… wow.  One poem for the honors class, another for the not-honors class.

 The poem for the honors class is “The Second Coming” by Yeats.  It is incredible, and incredibly difficult to understand.  I’m curious what you make of it.  I start to glance things, but the questions are stunning.  Read it, then try to answer the following *sampling* of questions.

What “centre” does he refer to, and why can’t it hold?

What “ceremony of innocence” is “drowned,” and why?

Why does he include 2 different references to birds in “falcon” and “desert birds”?

How and why does the poem end on an ironic note?

These questions have me puzzled, because I feel they are legitimate but hopelessly beyond me.

 The second poem is over 100 years old but very relevant to today; in fact my brother wrote a paper in college comparing it to today’s US foreign policy.  Consider this stanza:

Take up […]
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

How do you react to that?  Now Google the poem.  How do you react to it now?


1. Meghan - January 31, 2008

ok yeah…thats going to take a lot of thought to even make an attempt at answering those questions. i’ll get back to you…in like 5 years.

as for the second one, i cant really play along b.c i recognized the line “the savage wars of peace” without looking it up. but i can tell you that every time i read that poem i want to read it as a satire, even though i know it isnt.

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