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?