This advanced handout is designed to help students understand W. B. Yeats’ iconic yet rather difficult poem “The Second Coming”, with a particular focus on how it is linked to Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart. The handout includes:
A section that details the historical, political and social contexts shared by both Achebe’s novel and Yeats’ poem. This includes information about how Achebe was inspired by the poem in the choice of both the epigraph at the beginning of the novel and in his choice of title.
The poem text (“The Second Coming” by W. B. Yeats) with annotations for difficult concepts, vocabulary and terminology required to understand the poem.
A diagram and labelled addition to explain how “The Second Coming” envisions Yeats’s cyclical, dual gyres of history (as outlined in his book Vision).
Comprehension, Close Reading & Analysis Questions for the poem
Food for thought and essay questions for additional in-depth reflection and to ensure higher-order thinking and writing skills are also catered to.
The handout is designed so that you can use the poem text & close reading questions without explicitly linking it to Things Fall Apart, if you wish.
Feel free to use the handout at whichever point you see fit during your study of Things Fall Apart, but I recommend that you wait until things start falling apart in the novel, i.e. either until the end of Section 2 or until your students have read the novel completely.
Enjoy, and please leave feedback!