Sunday, August 29, 2010

Today it takes a poem

to say what the heart is feeling.

(I learned yesterday that Glen Beck believes he is "honoring Martin Luther King" by holding a rally at the same location and on the same date as the 1963 rally where Rev King made his impassioned I Have A Dream speech.)

The Second Coming
by William Butler Yeats

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?


Michael G-G said...

I have loved this poem since I first read it, thirty plus years ago. It has a timeless truth to it, as powerful today as it was in the years of Thatcher and Reagan.

So many great lines; so many great images. My favorite is the "slow thighs" of the beast. Utterly creepy.

We must pray--hard--that the centre CAN hold.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I think you might find this post comparing Palin's speech to one from another leader in history very interesting.

Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks. We need to read this poem regularly. Who's to say the Antichrist isn't a buffoon who wants to "take back the civil rights movement" for the racist white crybaby community?

"Oh we didn't do this on purpose! We just like wearing pointy white hats because they look so good with our pasty white faces."

And thanks Sarah for the link to the Palin/Hitler speech. I think we are wrong to dismiss these people as laughable. Hitler was a Bozo, too.

Lucas Darr said...

Okay, I am going to attempt the impossible, as a non-Beck follower, to explain what Beck is talking about without typing a novella. Please give me bonus points for a small side trip into election year politics without the hyperbole.

You may or may not know there is a movement right now to eat the Republican party from the outside in. Some of these elements want to purge the group of fiscal irresponsibility.

However, there are other elements that want to yank the party back to basic civil rights, quasi-libertarian roots. The Republican party was founded for civil rights, after all, and championed both women’s right to vote and Civil Rights Act.

And, to add to that mix, there is a religious movement afoot, and many of these people identify with Dr. King for those reasons alone.
Thus, if you listen to his speech, with this context, you may (or may not) consider what Beck really meant in his speech, as opposed to the vapid and pity descriptions of it flying around the interwebs.

IanBontems said...

Beck certainly is full of 'passionate intensity' :/

As a brit, watching from afar, I'm surprised that nutjob's so popular (although he does regularly give The Daily Show free material).

Emily White said...

There are people throughout history who society as a whole decides to love for a multitude of reasons. It could be for what he/she did, what he/she believed in, or for simply making society as a whole better by existing.

As society changes and grows over the years, these figures are given ideals they never believed in so that people who may not have agreed with everything this person stood for may love him/her just as others do.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. happens to be one of these amazing figures.

April said...

That's why the true classics will never die: they're simply timeless and written on a scale few writers can match today.

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

Scary stuff happening... Yeats may have observed the same in his own time, but the movement is still there, and still frightening.

Brad Jaeger said...

I'm keeping out of any talk of politics, (apart from reiterating Stephen King's comment that Glen Beck is Satan's mentally challenged little brother) but I just wanted to say that Yeats has always been a favourite, particularly that poem.

I thank The Sopranos for dropping it into their last couple of episodes as well.

Stacy said...

Anthony, the people who attended Beck's rally may indeed be sincere in their beliefs about honor and tradition and the like, but they're being bamboozled if they believe Beck believes in those things, too. He's openly said he's an entertainer who <a href=">doesn't care about the political process.</a>

And that's what makes his rally so repugnant. He's not only twisting the meaning of King's speech, he's manipulating these people for the sole purpose of making money.

Crystal Wilkinson said...

Couldn't resist a comment, though I tried. As an African American woman let me say to the "Let me explain what Beck is doing" response the current Republican part is no party of Lincoln. Please! At least agree on that one. Far, far, far, far removed from those earlier roots. Lincoln and the others would be turning, tumbling, in their resting places.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you. Just...thank you.

Lucas Darr said...


Those comments have been debunked as a not-so clever use of taking two things said at two different times and stuffing them together.

Something that may not be obvious (or may, I never know about these things), is that Beck has gotten a lot of flack from his conservative peers for being a self-described clown when it comes to politics. To me, this smacks of taking the bull by the horns.

In any event, listening to the 200 minutes of speeches and entertainment (yow), makes it even more clear that this was indeed a religious event to many of the attendees.

Lucas Darr said...


As I said, there is a movement to bring the party back to where it was, not that it was there. However, from a pure voting standpoint, Republicans have a better civil rights voting record than Democrats. The pivotal one in my book was giving women the right to vote.

While you can argue something odd happened after the Civil Rights Act, my commentary was concerning the grassroots effort underway right now. It's being mostly missed in the traditional press because the efforts are decentralized, and the media does not have boots on the ground.

Make sense?

Stacy said...

You speak in a didactic tone, as if none of us could possibly understand Beck and this "movement" without it being explained to us, Anthony. Just where and by whom were those statements debunked? I'd like a source, please.

Hilary said...

Thank you, Janet.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I try to refrain from getting too political on the internet, so I'll just say that's a powerful poem, and very chilling. I like Yeats but had missed that one over the years. Thanks for sharing it.

If anything, it just goes to show how the same problems/issues/trends repeat themselves throughout history, and every generation sees itself as shepherding in the end. Fascinating. I wonder when it actually will be?

Steve Stubbs said...

You must not have heard, Beck also says Barack Obama is a racist.

He has not said anything nasty about Santa Claus yet, but December is fast approaching.

Kitty said...

Dr. King's niece, Alveda King, spoke at the Restoring Honor rally. There were rabbis, priests, ministers and even a couple of imams at the rally. No one was arrested, and there was absolutely no litter left behind.

Say what you want about Beck, but the rally was as uplifting and joyous as anything I've ever seen.

Plus, they raise $5.5 million+ for the the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which "provides full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families."

Stephanie Barr said...

To the Beck apologists - I have seen it described as uplifting, frightening and everything in between. The general consensus is that it was nowhere near as horrifying as many expected it to be.

It doesn't change (a) that it was in bad taste to pick the date and venue that would undoubtedly draw comparisons (and his protest that he didn't know it was the same date argues, in my mind, against his "civil rights" stance) and (b)the multiple stances against everything the civil rights movements have been about this century does little to reinforce his claim to be about "civil rights."

People, good, mediocre and even evil, can have good moments, good quotes. In the end, it should be who one chooses to be, what one chooses to stand for.

It is that latter issue that has made many, like me, offended by Glenn Beck (his many well-documented positions and attacks) and his choice of rallying date and venue. Does he stand for what Rev. King stood for? Don't make me laugh . . . or cry.

Kitty said...

Maybe you should listen to Alveda King in her own words.

Stephanie Barr said...

Can she change who and what Beck stands for? I've seen quite a bit of that with my own eyes and ears.

Kitty said...

Just where do you get your information on Beck?

Stephanie Barr said...

He's televised, Kitty.

Kitty said...

I know; I watch his show. He's done many shows on history. One in particular was on the black founding fathers.

Alveda King does not agree with you, Stephanie. In fact, she was very helpful in the planning of the Restoring Honor rally.

Glenn Beck’s path to unity a rocky road:
Alveda King, in an e-mail exchange, took umbrage at the thought that she and other black leaders were used.

“I wasn’t window dressing, and Beck asked for Black Leaders to participate because I wanted the support from the Black Community. Glenn was blessed by our presence,” King wrote. “We were not window dressing, we were there to pray for America because we too are Americans!”
“I think that Glenn Beck has had a transcendent spiritual experience,” [Bishop Harry] Jackson said in an interview. “I think Alveda King said it best … when she said he’s like Paul on the road to Damascus.”

And this man doesn't agree with you, either.
A Black Man Goes To Glenn Beck's Rally:
The message I took away is that we cannot continue to pick at the scab of America's past but must become the balm that heals it. That's the way forward—arm in arm, moving together, toward a better future.

Standing in a crowd that stretched from the Washington Monument to Lincoln Memorial what happened on 8/28 was the most inspirational thing I had ever experienced.

Standing there, unhyphenated and united, this black man has never felt more free in his life.

The National Parks System doles out the permits for such functions on a first-come first-serve basis. Apparently nobody else had asked for the Lincoln Memorial for August 28th.

Stephanie Barr said...

Your point? You seemed all concerned that I would judge Glenn Beck by what others said about him. Agreed. I don't. I let him do his own talking.

But telling me I should agree with what others have to say about him when it works against what he says and does.

Sorry, that doesn't fly with me. I never decide how I feel about anyone based on what someone else says. I decide for myself based on what that someone does and says.

You can disagree with me. That's fine, you're entitled. But you can't decide for me. No one can.

Kitty said...

But telling me I should agree with what others have to say about him when it works against what he says and does.
But you can't decide for me.

You're inferring things I never even implied. What I said was the people who were there disagree with you.