An inherent tension between stability and change is revealed through recurring images in Yeats’ poetry.

To what extent does your interpretation of Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’ and at least one other poem align with this view?

In your response, make detailed reference to ‘The Second Coming’ and at least ONE other poem set for study.

Note to students:
This question requires you to write about ‘The Second Coming’. Students are reminded that they are required to fully prepare all poems set for study in any elective, as the examiners can be very specific and name one or more poems that must be addressed in the answer.

Sample response: Poetry

Prescribed text: WB Yeats: Poems Selected by Seamus Heaney

Introduction outlines the common aspects of both poems while responding to the question | Yeats had a distinctive world view that is evident in much of his poetry and explored through recurring imagery and motifs, as well as through language and ideas specific to individual poems. His views about civilization and change are expressed in ‘Leda and the Swan’ and ‘The Second Coming’ which, taken together, explore the beginning and the end of Western history in Yeats’ terms. Both poems look at the supernatural influence on human affairs, at a tipping point between stability and change. They consider human helplessness in the face of blind destiny, but also examine human acquiescence in the march of history. While they share features of language and structure, they also present ideas in ways particular to each poem. |
Yeats’ world view briefly addressed in terms relevant to the poems and the questionDiscussion of ‘The Second Coming’ | It is historically evident that all civilizations are subject to cycles of growth and decay. Yeats was deeply engaged with how this happens and what are the catalysts that produce chaos from order. As an occultist, he believed that significant historical change was supernaturally driven and that signs were evident at the time...