The Second Coming

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The Second Coming

In his poem "The Second Coming," Yeats predicts cataclysmic changes about to be wrought upon human kind. He states, "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world," (1511). This statement is in line with Modernistic thought of this time period. Modernistic writers felt that traditional teachings left something to be desired, and that it was time for change. There was a huge upheaval in religious beliefs and current religious convictions were being challenged with new scientific knowledge. Yeats foresees spiritual changes in the words, "Surely some revelation is at hand;/Surely the Second Coming is at hand..."(1511).

The Modernistic period was also a time when questions were asked about the old, established, and customary beliefs. Writers attempted to challenge people to think about archaic ways of conduct, and to check the motivations behind their beliefs. Joseph Conrad stated in Heart of Darkness, "Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair,"(1377). He portrays in these lines the ugliness of Europeans treatment of another culture. He is challenging his reader to adopt another attitude, but does not ever tell his reader how to feel, another defining feature of literary Modernism. Conrad tells us about a Black man with a white cloth tied about his neck. Again he does not interpret this white cloth, but leaves it open to our interpretation, "He had tied a bit of white worsted round his neck - Why?"(1377). Conrad questions the motives of white Europeans in Africa, repeatedly referring to their greed: ". . . weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly..."(1377).

Conrad, in his statement about their building of a railway, "The cliff was not in the way or anything but this objectless blasting was all the work going on"(1376), asks his reader to observe the violence against a country, not only its people, but the actual land.
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