Dying Embers out now

Dying Embers out now

Friday 21 June 2013

The Second Coming by WB Yeats, and a review

It's been some time since I have posted any creepy poetry, so I thought I'd pop this classic up for your perusal. It's a much-anthologised and very significant piece by Yeats, reflecting the mystic theory of his book and lifelong obsession A Vision, in which he espouses his ideas of the construction of the universe. From what I remember this was very complex, involving two conical spirals (he referred to them as 'gyres'), influencing the direction and influences upon mankind. The 'second coming' here signifies the two spirals touching (at that particular moment in time), and the 'rough beast', perhaps a giant sphinx, subsequently taking the world towards disorder and mayhem. It was written in 1921, so depending on your point of view, he was either misguided or very accurate indeed!

The Second Coming
by W. B. 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?

Review of Delusion and Dreams by Maria Savva

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Maria Savva's previous collection of short stories, Love and Loyalty, and I posted a review here. So I have been looking forward to reading this, her latest collection.

Delusion and Dreams doesn't disappoint. It kicks off with Delusion and Dreams Part 1, which forms the first part of a storyline running throughout the book, written from different viewpoints. This first installment outlines Jack's descent towards ostracism, all too easy in the modern world; and poses some awkward questions. Next up is Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, which offers a title apt in more ways than one, and some humorous relief; but only through misunderstanding and broken promises. It's clear straight away that the protagonists in these stories are all realistic and well-rounded.

The first line of Happy New Year grabs you, and the story never lets you go as it unravels expertly. Jonathan Graves begins to doubt his own motives during an interrogation, and so will you; but what will be revealed in the end? Following on, Friends and Neighbours is an intriguing tale of a delightful young couple helping out their elderly neighbour and things not going quite to plan – and how opposites do not always attract. Delusion and Dreams Part 2 offers a different perspective, and contains some surprises about Jessie's situation which will make the reader stop and think. Getting Away With It is one of those compelling stories I couldn't read quickly enough, desperate to find out what happens next; I won't say more than that! Friends and Neighbours – Revisited opens the reader's eyes to another viewpoint as the story follows on, involving both the ultimate betrayal, and a twist at the end.

Seeing is Believing involves sympathy, misunderstanding, and sweet revenge – in a most unexpected way. This cautionary tale leads into Delusion and Dreams Part 3, which exposes the cracks beneath the surface of suburban existence. The best short stories make you stop and think, reconsidering your own place in the world, and Merry-go-round certainly does that. Mandy is worn down by family routine, and is pleasantly surprised by the events of one evening – but is everything as it seems? The tables are turned in a surprising way for James in Courage, the story of a young boy's many hangups. It would seem he is victorious in the end, but the seeds of doubt are planted in the very last paragraph. Delusion and Dreams Part 4 caps the collection, leaving the reader wondering whether there really is any loyalty left in the world.

Delusion and Dreams gives the reader strong, believable characters being presented with varying kinds of dilemma, and then makes it possible to examine the motives behind their actions. This is an endlessly fascinating prospect, because it is the essence of human nature; and Maria Savva understands human nature well. I must add that there are five bonus stories, Flames, Isolation, Winter Blues, Michaela and The Game of Life, which are all excellent, ensuring this is a satisfying read. If you are interested in looking beyond the obvious in everyday life, this collection is for you!

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