Tags: yeats | poems | poetry | second coming | prayer

Yeats' Poems Remain Sign of Religious Hope for Christians

By    |   Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014 06:13 PM

While Yeats is widely believed to have rejected Christianity, yet he had a great understanding of the culture and hope of the religion. Yeats’ poems hold the potential to bring hope to many Christians, regardless of the path he followed on his own spiritual journey.

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In his poem, "The Second Coming," Yeats outlines his beliefs that the history of his own time, which had been dominated by Christian civilization, is coming to an end. For Christians, this is not a dire prediction but rather one that leads to the hope of the return of Jesus Christ, the end of the suffering of life here on earth and the coming of a time of peace.

So, while Yeats' poetry does not, in "The Second Coming," present a very optimistic view of the end of the age, some Christians may beg to differ. The tribulation signals the beginning of the end of times and ultimately the second coming of Christ.

While Yeats' own beliefs tended to eschew a traditional Christian view of the world, the ideas he put forth fit within the view some Christians have that we are nearing end times.

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In "The Second Coming," Yeats talks of the “widening gyre,” which speaks of the cycles of history becoming wider and wider so they cannot hold together. As an Irish native, Yeats was fond of the folklore and mysticism of his Celtic heritage. The references in the poem cannot be taken out of context of the Irish War of Independence and World War I, which both reflected Yeats' impressions of the world coming to an end. However, some Christians also have a sense that as the political and cultural center grows wider and scattered that history is coming to a point of change. For Christians, history coming to a point of change would mean that the fulfillment of the kingdom of Christ and the new heaven and new earth as outlined in Revelation would be near — a very hopeful thing indeed.

Yeats also provides hope for Christians in other poetry, particularly in the “Prayer” poems. In the poem "A Prayer for My Son," he calls out for protection over his infant son Michael, who was born in 1921. Yeats talks to God and recognizes the importance of a parent’s love to protect a child.

"A Prayer for My Daughter" also focuses on a parent's concern about protecting a newborn child. Yet it can also be seen as an answer to his concerns about civilization as presented in "The Second Coming." Yeats worries about the future and if his daughter will have the qualities needed to live a successful and peaceful life. He wants her to have beauty and intelligence, but not too much that it cripples her. This poem is written for Yeats' newborn daughter, but also speaks to the political time in which she will live.

In "A Prayer for Old Age," he outlines his hopes for being old and yet feeling young. Yeats writes, “I pray… That I may seem, though I die old, A foolish, passionate man.” Certainly passion for life and the hope that prayer can bring despite the frailty of age is a theme that resonates with Christians.

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While Yeats is widely believed to have rejected Christianity, yet he had a great understanding of the culture and hope of the religion. Yeats' poems hold the potential to bring hope to many Christians, regardless of the path he followed on his own spiritual journey.
yeats, poems, poetry, second coming, prayer
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2014-13-29
Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014 06:13 PM
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