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?
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The Bright Eyes titular track, Four Winds, draws inspiration from Yeats's poem. This is most obviously seen in the appropriation of the poem's closing in the following refrain:"And it's the Sum of Man slouching towards Bethlehem."
In 2006 and 2007 Pocket Books published a mini-series of six Star Trek e-books called "Mere Anarchy", with each of the six books taking its title from this poem - see List of Star Trek novels.
Several episodes of the TV series Andromeda, depicting a universe in chaos following a great war, are named after phrases from this poem ("Its Hour Come Round at Last", "In the Widening Gyre", and "Pitiless as the Sun").