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The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats:

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?

What does the phrase "The ceremony of innocence" mean here? From a quick look online, one interpretation I found is that the ceremony of innocence refers to christian baptism, but that doesn't sound quite right to me (how do you drown an actual ceremony?).

One idea I had is that maybe "ceremony of innocence" refers to people pretending to be innocent, so the lines "The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere\ The ceremony of innocence is drowned;" mean that humanities evil deeds (the blood-dimmed tide) are so numerous that there is no point for anyone to pretend to be innocent.

Can anyone suggest other interpretations?

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I put "Yeats ceremony of innocence" on Google and saw lots of speculation/interpretation just in the first page of results.

Yeats uses the term "ceremony of innocence" to harken back to the ordered, structured, ceremonial world of pre-war Europe. Yeats mourns what he sees as the loss of an aristocratic order. Instead of order, the world is now awash in bloody chaos or anarchy.
D. Reynolds @ https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-drowns-the-ceremony-of-innocence-in-the-272404

Of course, it's poetry, so any interpretation that makes the poem more robust for you (hooking your emotional response to your understanding of his argument) is the goal.

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