Yeats’ Second Coming and Cummings’ what if a much of a which of a wind Essay

Yeats’ Second Coming and Cummings’ what if a much of a which of a wind Essay

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The End of the World in Yeats’ Second Coming and Cummings’ what if a much of a which of a wind


Hellfire and brimstone, a massive environmental disaster, a third World War; how will the world end? This issue can stop conversations, or start hour long arguments; it can start a religion, or cause people to renounce their faith. The answer to the ubiquitous question of how the world will eventually end is a paradox; to know the answer means that the final hour has come. Both E.E. Cummings and William Butler Yeats express their premonitions about when and why this awesome event may occur. Both prophetize about the horrific destruction of the world in their poems, "what if a much of a which of a wind" and "The Second Coming"; however, Cummings and Yeats disagree on the final cause of this destruction. While both utilize graphic imagery, stark contrast, and unique syntax to warn their readers about the evils of mankind, Cummings predicts society's irresponsible use of technology will engender the world's end, while Yeats believes that men themselves, the "worst full of passionate intensity," will ultimately cause the downfall of civilization.

Cummings' use of intense and somewhat disturbing imagery in his poem "what if a much of a which of a wind" urges readers to realize the extent of the devastation caused by catastrophic, preventable, destruction. The first stanza of the poem, describing images such as the sun "bloodying the leaves", evokes terror in the reader. The thought of the sun, usually associated with warmth and love, destroying something that it has helped to develop, directly parallels technology's current role in society. Technology, usually thought of as beneficial to mankind, slowly destroys the society that it ...


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...thinkers since the beginning of time. E.E. Cummings and William Butler Yeats felt compelled to express their thoughts as to the imminent destruction of mankind. However, what they were unaware of at the the time that they wrote their prophetic poems, was how frighteningly true their predictions almost came. Yeats commentary regarding the leaders of the world and their "passionate intensity" prophetized the Holocaust of World War II and the autocracies created by Hitler and Stalin, while the masses "lacking all conviction" sat and watched with passive indifference. E.E. Cummings' description of man's misuse of technology, was exemplified by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These poets sounded an alarm that was ignored; hopefully we are now prepared to heed their warnings so that their dire predictions will not prove to be ultimately true.

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