William Butler Yeat’s “The Second Coming” contains what are,
perhaps, the most-quoted lines of twentieth century poetry. “Things fall apart;
the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” Written in
1920, the poem not only summed up the horror of the still young century, it
seemed prescient of horrors yet to come.
Postmodernity may be, to some degree,
a pretentious academic fad. But its soil is undoubtedly the collapse of an
authoritative, life-giving center and the ensuing fragmentation experienced
daily in culture, politics, and individual lives.