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Sloughing toward Bethlehem

Posted by Lewis on June 29, 2007

In Reply to: Sloughing toward Bethlehem posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 27, 2007

: : What does "sloughing toward Bethlehem" mean?

: It' "slouching towards Bethlehem". ("Sloughing" means "shedding one's skin, as of a snake", which would give you a very different phrase.) It's a quotation from a poem by W B Yeats, called "The Second Coming", and was also used in the 1970s as the title of a collection of essays by Joan Didion on the state of American life.

: Here's the poem:

: 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 Spritus Mundi
: Troubles my sight: somewhere in the 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?
: (VSD)

: :

cheerful soul, that Yeats.

he should have read 'the wasteland' to cheer himself up a bit...