William Butler Yeats wrote "The Second Coming" a hundred years ago, when the world seemed on the verge. Perhaps like now, perhaps like many years.
The losses of the First World War were still overwhelming when millions more began to die in the waves of a flu pandemic, which infected Yeats's wife, Georgie Hyde-Lees, while she was pregnant. She and their child would survive.
Yeats's poem was published in November 1920. And over the century since, perhaps no poem has been more invoked for vexing times, to convey, in Yeats's own incomparable words, that: