The “Rough Beast” is a phrase from “The Second Coming” by YB Yeats. Written in 1919, it is a poem that becomes more topical with each passing day.
The last three lines of the poem above are a deliberate reference to TS Eliot’s lines from “Four Quartets” – “Humankind/Cannot bear very much reality.”
And the middle section is suggested by an episode in Gustave Flaubert’s historical novel “Salammbo.” The Carthaginians worship Baal. And Baal is angry. Things have gone wrong and the people have failed him. To placate him, all the families of Carthage must offer up their first-born child to be burnt within the effigy of the god.
And decisions which we of my generation make, or avoid making, gargoyles and phantasms we allow to manage our affairs, will have an impact upon our children that may not be dissimilar to Flaubert’s vision. In our subjugation to false gods, our hates and our fears, we risk sacrificing our own children, and the Earth itself.