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?
W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”
I think it’s a good idea to have a day to remember those who died in war. I hate the sanctimonious patriotism that creeps into it every year, though. It’s a plague of simplicity; the worst of us, Yeats’s says, “are full of passionate intensity.”
The men and women who died in the Philippines at the end of the 19th century, and those who died in WWI, or WWII, or Korea, or Vietnam, or Grenada, or Panama, or Iraq, did not all fight for the same reasons. Soldiers don’t always or maybe usually die “protecting our freedoms.”
War does not make that much sense; countries don’t make that much sense; people don’t make that much sense.