Tony Blair, Yeats, and the United States

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As a young person I had a deep and intense interest in theology; the study of theology, though I was never a formal student of such.  I was, and still am, profoundly impressed with the wisdom and history contained within my Judeo-Christian heritage.

I was particularly interested with certain of the Old Testament prophets, mainly Isaiah, from whose words I have always found hope.

I remember talking to a professor of theology once; a well respected man from Candler School of Theology.  We were discussing the ways in which prophecy, like history, repeats itself.  Perhaps, there simply is nothing new under the sun, as the Ecclesiastical writer said.  What has been, will be.

People in my circle have been talking about Tony Blair’s interesting piece in the NYTimes, “Brexit’s Stunning Coup”.   A friend recently highlighted this particular statement from Blair:

“The political center has lost its power to persuade and its essential means of connection to the people it seeks to represent. Instead, we are seeing a convergence of the far left and far right. The right attacks immigrants while the left rails at bankers, but the spirit of insurgency, the venting of anger at those in power and the addiction to simple, demagogic answers to complex problems are the same for both extremes. Underlying it all is a shared hostility to globalization.”

Britain shares much in common with the United States.

Blair goes on to say, “The center must regain its political traction, rediscover its capacity to analyze the problems we all face and find solutions that rise above the populist anger. If we do not succeed in beating back the far left and far right before they take the nations of Europe on this reckless experiment, it will end the way such rash action always does in history: at best, in disillusion; at worst, in rancorous division. The center must hold.” 

Of course, Blair’s subtext is William Butler Yeats poem “The Second Coming”, a poem written in Ireland in 1919, in the aftermath of the first World War.  The poem uses a great deal of Christian imagery, prophecy if you will.

Here it is, in it’s entirety, your poetry lesson for Monday as you consider it in light of Blair’s words.

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: somewhere in sands of the desert
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
Reel 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 Replies to “Tony Blair, Yeats, and the United States”

  1. Nietzsche said that time is a flat circle. I believe the far-left -PC culture and the militant far-right have far more in common with each other than they would ever care to admit.

    I think Europe is concerned with immigration, inclusion, and economic recession today. they will be concerned with being German subjects tomorrow.
    The fox is solely in the hen house now. They make the rules. Wait and see.

    1. Re: Nietzsche’s Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. It’s Harold who lives. His wristwatch dies. (the movie, Stranger Than Fiction). So, history may repeat itself, but love (of life, of others) trumps both time and evil.
      Re: Germany. I don’t have the same read on it that you do. Will Europe be subjects of Germany tomorrow? Not if Germany can help it!

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