Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Center Cannot Hold

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
---from "The Second Coming", by William Butler Yeats

This is one of those poems that I read over and over, finding something important and relevant each time.

This morning, while listening to the news on NPR with my daily coffee, it came to mind again. I don't know if it's an artifact of the instant news cycle, but it feels as if terrible things are accelerating in the world. "The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned;"

I know, by the very fact that Yeats wrote these words in 1919, that evil, strife, and peril are not a modern invention. Life has always been an inherently dangerous proposition. Perhaps we have just pretended this is not so, used technology and prosperity to maintain the illusion that we are not vulnerable.

The truth is, we are vulnerable. Our lives are terribly fragile. Perhaps instead of hiding from that painful revelation, we need to embrace it. Take it in, make it part of ourselves.

Then we can truly understand how precious and rare each day of our lives is.

Maybe then we would make different choices. Value different things. Stop wounding and killing one another for stubborn ideology and misguided fear.

We are all of us in Yeats' desert, "vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle". We are all looking for comfort in the dark.


  1. And yet. I've noticed more and more that there simply isn't much "news". The media went apesh*t over Balloon Boy, Octomom and Jon & Kate. This is not news, this is ridiculous.

    In a media market like New York, with so many, many people, when the lead story is a fire in which no one died, I think we're doing pretty well. They may be scraping the barrel for news these days, but that's a good thing. It meant nobody died.

  2. That's true, as well, Sue. I call that the 'much ado about nothing' problem.

    I think I just woke up in a blue mood this morning.

    Us writerly-folk are sensitive creatures.