Sundays its entirety, the essence of Advent is over: we are in the end time of chill rain under black clouds; no blue dome of firmament, but the flat, dark, sunless predawn of December 19th, Monday before Christmas Day. Haunted by that ominous line in the Proper Preface, “that when he shall come again in power and great triumph to judge the world, we may without shame or fear rejoice to behold his appearing,” how, where, guilty, unrighteous, do I stand? The hymn, Wesley warns me, I ought have listened, and done, and not left undone - -
Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at nought and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.
And with Yeats, I tremble.
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 toward Bethlehem to be born?