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Ithaca Reads Things Fall Apart

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Chinua Achebe took the title of Things Fall Apart from a line in William Butler Yeats' poem, The Second Coming. The poem was written in 1919, just after World War I and the beginning of communism and fascism, and during a time when Yeats was interested in mystical philosophy.

Attend the Community Read Coffee House with author Robert Morgan as he discusses Behind Yeats, Achebe, and "Coming Apart."

The Second Coming - W. B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with 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 darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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Last Modified: September 16, 2005
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