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'The Second Coming': 12 Times Yeats Has Influenced Pop Culture

By    |   Tuesday, 28 October 2014 09:28 PM

The lines of W.B. Yeats' poem "The Second Coming" have inspired artists for generations.

While he wrote in a particular political climate of upheaval in Europe after World War I and Ireland during the fight for independence, "The Second Coming" has given voice to people describing their own “end times” ever since. Even if today’s artists don’t quite take the time to understand the references they are making, the words of Yeats are powerful and pervasive.

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Here are 12 times Yeats' words from "The Second Coming" have shown up in pop culture:

1. Woody Allen's collection "Mere Anarchy," which takes a humorous view on human existence, has a reference to the poem’s line: “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

2. Steven King refers to the poem in his book “The Stand,” which was also turned into a TV miniseries, about the release of a deadly flu virus.

3. A novel by Chinua Achebe about colonial settlers in Nigeria is titled "Things Fall Apart," a reference to the poem’s line: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

4. A Batman comic book series titled “The Widening Gyre” by Kevin Smith was first published in 2009. The titles of each book in the series follow the poem line by line.

5. In his 1978 live album “Take No Prisoners,” Lou Reed opens the set by quoting the line, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

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6. Joni Mitchell has a song on the 1991 "Night Ride Home" album titled “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” which borrows the last line of the poem.

7. The poem is referenced in at least two episodes of "The Sopranos." In Season 5 Episode 10, the poem's lines "The falcon cannot hear the falconer" and "the centre cannot hold” are quoted.

8. Dan Simmons’ series of books called Hyperion Cantos is a science fiction story that includes several quotes from the poem.

9. In an episode of the 2014 WGN America series "Manhattan," the last five lines of the poem are quoted in an episode titled “The Second Coming.”

10. X-Men: Legacy No. 23 comic book released in March of 2014 by Marvel Comics is called “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.”

11. Star Trek: The Mere Anarchy series began as a 2009 series of e-books is now available in paperback. It is a six-book series that takes titles from several lines of the poem: “Things Fall Apart,” “The Centre Cannot Hold,” “Shadows of the Indignant,” “Darkness Drops Again,” “The Blood-Dimmed Tide,” and “Its Hour Come Round”

12. U2: The Irish band is well known to have used Yeats' lines in many of their songs.

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The lines of W.B. Yeats' poem "The Second Coming" have inspired artists for generations.
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Tuesday, 28 October 2014 09:28 PM
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