Posts Tagged ‘Bethlehem’

The Second Coming And Malcolm X

22 Apr


William Butler Yeats


THE FOLLOWING TWO POETIC stanzas, two of the most famous and widely discussed were penned by Irish poet and scholar, William Butler Yeats in 1919, first printed in The Dial in November 1920, and afterwards included in his 1921 collection of verses Michael Robartes and the Dancer.

The Dial was a premier American literary magazine published intermittently from 1840 to 1929. In its first form, from 1840 to 1844, it served as the chief publication of the Transcendentalists. Led by such early lights as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, the movement became the first intellectual cohesion, religious and philosophical, founded and concentrated from the new American continent.

In the 1880s the magazine was revived as a political magazine. From 1920 to 1929 it was an influential outlet for Modernist literature in English, publishing many of the most groundbreaking poets and authors we know today, including the first United States publication of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land. It's no accident that these stanzas of Yeats' seem to be of particular interest today.


    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?

    —W.B. Yeats

I've often considered these past few years since September 11, how this particular Yeats' poem strikes the mind as glaringly prophetic—in that most compelling sense of the word—prophetic of the current and 3rd wave of Islam. For us, the Camp of Islam is lodged in stout context as the "rough beast" we see pitting itself against civilization, although elsewhere, Yeats portrays the antithetical Messiah as the royal Oedipus, an image from Homer's age, who lays down upon the earth and 'sank down' soul and body into the earth. But note these three battles and their dates as Islam forces made invaded and made war with Western cultures.

    1st wave: Battle of Tours, 732.
    2nd wave: Battle of Vienna, September 11, 1683.
    3rd wave: New York City, September 11, 2001.

One can imagine the Irish poet balancing Messiah who, crucified standing up, went into the abstract sky, soul and body. What if Messiah and Oedipus are the two scales of a balance, the two polar ends of a seesaw? What if every two thousand and odd years something happens in the world to make one sacred, the other profane; one wise, the other foolish; one fair, the other foul; one divine, the other devilish? What if there is an arithmetic or geometry that can exactly measure the slope of the balance, the dip of the scale, and so date the coming of that something?

“There is nothing in our book, the Koran, that teaches us to suffer peacefully,” Malcolm X declared in a speech in November 1963. “Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That’s a good religion.”
Frankly, the Oedipus motif is not as far-fetched in terms of the Islamic relationship to Abraham and Yahushua (Jesus) as it first seems. Islam would kill the Abrahamic father, and usurp the redemption of the mother church, and long blinded by its own egotistical forces unable to see where it has erred, has earned its own destruction in the full accordance of time, victim of its own beastly rebellious nature, thus losing access to the global redemption of ancient prophecy.

A few contradictions do rise to the top of this analysis, however. The puritanical Islamicists, as a death cult, characterized in their own words as "loving death while the West loves life" could be seen as despisers of this world, and lovers of God. On the other hand, this posture is merely a well-honed tactic by which they crucially calculate aggressive actions in order to subdue and dominate the whole world through these specific tools of terror and warfare.

An outward resemblance to religion and godliness, but nothing but raging lions inwardly. This description nails many a soul past and present, great and small, around the world, but it seems to describe perfectly the last stand of the last beast of religion. And we appear to be the witnesses against that last generation.

"There is nothing in our book, the Koran, that teaches us to suffer peacefully," Malcolm X declared in a speech in November 1963. "Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That's a good religion."

In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated in Harlem by three men who shot him sixteen times in what is generally surmized as retaliation for his late distancing from both the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammed. His last words? "Let's cool it, brothers..."


Malcolm X

In prison, Malcolm X adopted the creed of the Nation of Islam (later known as the Black Muslims). Among the group's core beliefs is that God had visited Detroit in 1930, in the form of a man named Wallace D. Fard, aka "Mr. Farrad" (whose teachings were disseminated by Elijah Poole, later known as Eliljah Muhammad); that God created humans 66 trillion years ago; that humans were originally black; that their {black) civilization ruled for most of those 66 trillion years; that black scientists created animals and the moon; that whites, a race of devils created to torment blacks, were created by a rebelious black scientist named Yacub 6000 years ago; that God granted whites control of the world for a limited time; and that God would deliver blacks from their bondage and destroy the white race, possibly in the year 1984.

Malcolm X, [born Malcolm Little] [aka El-Hajj Halik El-Shabazz] (1925-1965) American activist, member of the Black Muslims (1952-1963), founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (1964) [noted for his espousal of separatism and Black pride, for his conversion to orthodox Islam, and for his assassination in Harlem]


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""