Both Ruvy in Jerusalem and Aaman have posted on what the passing of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon may signal for the State of Israel. To my mind, both posts seemed to have such an apocalyptic feel that I couldn't help but think--as I often do--of my all time favorite poem by W. B. Yeats. I first discovered it back in high school, and it has haunted me ever since. To me it is--and will forever remain--the most chilling yet bleakly beautful prediction of unspeakable horrors and woes yet to come.
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 convictions, 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?
--William Butler Yeats
During the past year or so, it has occurred to me again and again that if I believed in that sort of thing, what's been happening in the world today would surely have convinced me that the End Times are at hand. (Yes, there have been horrors in our world since time immemorial, but being human, of course I see things from the narrow perspective of my personal knowlege, experience, and Zeitgiest.)
Devastating hurricanes; uncontrollable wildfires; tsunamis; earthquakes; another deadly virus poised to morph into a pandemic; a well nigh unwinnable war with Iraq; Iran's implacable anti-Semitic stance; the worldwide scourge of terrorism and the rogue trading in nuclear materials...need I go on?
And now, to add to Israel's turmoils, the passing of the Sharon era in a time of unprecedented crisis for the Jewish State.
I shudder to think what might be in store next.