The Second Coming of Yeats

March 17, 2016


Over the years, I’ve probably produced as many comic strips based upon St. Patrick’s Day as any other annual occasion except the high holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. I’m not sure why this is. I suppose it’s the light-hearted nature of the thing. I know the Irish take themselves and their culture as seriously as any other peoples, but I believe it is fair to say that, as a population, they’ve also a deserved reputation for a certain light-hearted approach to life and others. I hope they would agree. Anyway, it always is fun to celebrate this day with them and believe that today we all are Irish.



20 thoughts on “The Second Coming of Yeats”

  1. My favorite holidays are Christmas, New Year’s Day Thanksgiving July 4th and Easter in that order. NYD and Thanksgiving mainly for the parades and Football. July 4th for the Fireworks, weather and picnics. Easter is always a time of hope, not just spiritually but because spring means things start growing. I never did much with St. Patrick’s Day.

  2. One of my favorites:
    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
    THE SECOND COMING
    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 conviction, 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: a waste of desert sand;
    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
    Wind 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?

  3. To avoid any debate as to whether or not Corned Beef and Cabbage is actually “Irish”, I’ll just say that I prepare that dish only once a year, and it’s totally coincidental that it is always March 17th. 🙂

    • As far as I’m concerned, I love the corned beef but cannot see any benefit in the cabbage! [Nothing Irish in my heritage.] My MBH may have had one greatgrandmother who was Irish, but the rest of her ancestry is Swiss via Bavaria/Germany. She does enjoy the boiled cabbage. YMMV on the possible connection, real or imagined.

  4. My view may be skewed by being of Irish extraction, limiting my view. I think many of us enjoy finding the things we have in common and celebrating them with good cheer. Also most of us take it less kindly to be sternly told by our betters how we are so very different. One path leads to public displays of mirth, craic, and laughter often accompanied by drink. All comers of like mind and similar intentions welcomed heartily. The other trail leads to Troubles with a literal capital ‘T’. Both avenues are well trod by the Irish heel. And yet I still consider them traits of all communities. Maybe we Irish just do it with more flair and panache. We do enjoy a good crossroads festival.

    Today’s current strip, reminds me I would rather eat Corned Beef leftovers for a week in Spring than Turkey sandwiches in December. And while it probably was not part of the Ireland Irish cuisine of the eighteenth century. The diaspora did indeed make a habit of using the less glamorous foods while increasing flavor. The resulting squeakiness best passed over without mention in the evenings conversation.

    And I do so enjoy a good Soda Bread.

    I’ve had connection difficulties. Apologies if this posts twice.

  5. My Irish McCarty ancestors came over in early 1700s and came to Carolinas. The three brothers produced thousands of direct line descendents who populated the Southern states.

    I have about 28,000 living cousins our
    researchers estimate. We never are Irish foods, didn’t drink, dance, sing not play musical instruments. Sadly.

    We do look Irish, short, buxlm, pretty hair and complexion. And some of us followed our DNA in character.

    Read The Reivers by William Faulkner. Southern Itish.

  6. Yeats was accepting, though not explicitly stating, a theological notion that a 1st Century CE apocalyptic prophet was born in Bethlehem. Some theologs believe it more likely that he was born in his home town, Nazareth, around 4-6 BCE.
    If the Irish “diaspora” refers to the exodus resulting from the potato famine, that was 19th Century CE. That is, I think, how half my mother’s ancestry got here, pre-Civil War. The other half got here via Portugal, ca 1492, Netherlands shortly thereafter, and Curacao, then a Dutch colony, pre-War Between the States. The way Der Fuhrer counted things, that makes me a quarter Jewish, regardless of theology.
    Peace,

    • Diaspora generally means all the dislocated members of a group over the span of history. The potato famine being only one cause of a certain period in a limited geography and population. The Irish have a long tradition of finding new places to live. My 18th c. observation on cuisine takes into account that by the mid 19th century There Was No Cuisine, due to famine. (This speaks of the Irish themselves. The Landlords house may have had a better stocked larder.) So the comparison was to what may have been traditional fare in better times. The displaced would make best use of meager items available to their limited means from what was available in their new locations. And enjoy with happiness and thanks for what they had. Then set about to increase their means. Their success varied, but many did well.

      I do not know Yeats’s mind any better than you do; nor for that matter the biblical authors who share a story they did not witness. But I will put forward the idea he accepted the story as recorded and preserved through history, rather than take it upon himself to decry those stories as false, the writers mistaken or worse, and substitute a new setting that removes the arduous journey at the direction of temporal powers. Is the purpose simply to create doubt in accepted lore, or does the creating that doubt somehow falsify the divinity of Joseph’s and Mary’s child?

      In any case I think the poem’s title and body both seek imagery from the final book in the new testament, more than the opening books. This
      rough beast does not herald a peaceful reign to Yeats’s readers. One might infer the Great War was not pleasant, and Yeats was not convinced this new peace would last.

  7. Shamrocks

    .
    That is why we eat Corned Beef for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And darn we did not get into town to get the
    Corned beef on sale. 🙁
    .
    I was anonymoused again. But not yesterday??

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