Mitchell, Joni - Slouching Towards Bethlehem Lyrics




Turning and turning
Within the widening grey
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart
The centre cannot hold
And a blood dimmed tide
Is loosed upon the world

Nothing is sacred
The ceremony sinks
Innocence is drowned
In anarchy
The best lack conviction
Given some time to think
And the worst are full of passion
Without mercy

Surely some revelation is at hand
Surely it's the second coming
And the wrath has finally taken form
For what is this rough beast
Its hour come at last
Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born

Hoping and hoping
As if with my weak faith
The spirit of this world
Would heal and rise
Vast are the shadows
That straddle and strafe
And struggle in the darkness
Troubling my eyes

Shaped like a lion
It has the head of a man
With a gaze as black
And pitiless as the sun
As it's moving its slow things
Across the desert sands
Through dark indignant
Reeling falcons

Surely some revelation is at hand
Surely it's the second coming
And the wrath has finally taken form
For what is this rough beast
Its hour come at last
Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
(Head of a man, shape of a lion)

Raging and raging
It rises from the deep
Opening its eyes
After twenty centuries
Vexed to a nightmare
Out of a stony sleep
By a rocking cradle
By the Sea of Galilee

Surely some revelation is at hand
Surely it's the second coming
And the wrath has finally taken form
For what is this rough beast
Its hour come at last
Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
(Head of a man, shape of a lion)





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Mitchell, Joni Slouching Towards Bethlehem Comments
  1. Martin 33 Shazam

    One of her masterwork albums.

  2. maha77

    one of my all-time favorite albums

  3. Mark

    Joni , you got me at the name.

  4. Tom Sparks

    Her poetry in Song is our prophecy. I'm glad I understand her where so many do not.

    Joanne Soltani

    The poetry in this particular song was provided by W.B Yeats, who wrote the poem The Second Coming and published it in 1919. Right after the horrors of the First World War. Joni made some modifications, brilliantly.

  5. Beverly McCoy

    Chilling, to say the least.

  6. Dhir Am

    Joni, we love you. There is almost like this out there, anywhere... You know this. Thank you for your voice, heart, and mind.

  7. Steve Beck

    I am not sure who is more prescient? William Butler Yeats or Joni Mitchell.

  8. Kevin Byrne

    Powerfully sad because it's true.

  9. Shelby Nicholson

    I've never been one of those mean streets kick ass punks who kills people, because I've never been laid and can't attract a girlfriend. This poem asks what it is about such people that burn the world like this... "For what is this rough beast / Its hour come at last /Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born." Surely the hope of tomorrow should outweigh the need to annihilate civilization on account of a few mere disappointments or one person's pitiful ego.

  10. Le Anh Quoc

    This album reminds me of Hejira, but in a clearer texture, easier listening, more of the mordern 90s vibe, and Joni voice is more raspy here. Anyhow, this album is so beautiful.

  11. Alvin Bourque

    Beautiful 💓👌👍👍

  12. Greg Stewart

    Thanks uploader :)
    Lyrics based on Yeates "Second Coming"

    Slouching Towards Bethlehem
    Joni Mitchell
    Turning and turning
    Within the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer
    Things fall apart
    The center cannot hold
    And a blood dimmed tide
    Is loosed upon the world
    Nothing is sacred
    The ceremony sinks
    Innocence is drowned
    In anarchy
    The best lack conviction
    Given some time to think
    And the worst are full of passion
    Without mercy
    Surely some revelation is at hand
    Surely it's the second coming
    And the wrath has finally taken form
    For what is this rough beast
    Its hour come at last
    Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
    Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
    Hoping and hoping
    As if by my weak faith
    The spirit of this world
    Would heal and rise
    Vast are the shadows
    That straddle and strafe
    And struggle in the darkness
    Troubling my eyes
    Shaped like a lion
    It has the head of a man
    With a gaze as blank
    And pitiless as the sun
    And it's moving its slow thighs
    Across the desert sands
    Through dark indignant
    Reeling falcons
    Surely some revelation is at hand
    Surely it's the second coming
    And the wrath has finally taken form
    For what is this rough beast
    Its hour come at last
    Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
    Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
    Raging and raging
    It rises from the deep
    Opening its eyes
    After twenty centuries
    Vexed to a nightmare
    Out of a stony sleep
    By a rocking cradle
    By the Sea of Galilee
    Surely some revelation is at hand
    Surely it's the second coming
    And the wrath has finally taken form
    For what is this rough beast
    Its hour come at last
    Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born
    Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born

    Thomas Simmons

    Some of the finest songwriting ever...from a girl born in Fort MacLeod, Canada.

  13. Steve Beck

    Who else but Joni Mitchell would tackle this poem in music?
    If the Grifter-in-Chief is getting you down, listen to a Joni Mitchell song. And then go for a swim.

  14. S Beru

    Surely some revelation is at hand....... Hang in there people it's not over yet

  15. moonasha

    this poem was written in the aftermath of WWI. Seems more relevant now than ever

  16. manuel ponce

    this is war but i m on the same side - there is no same side - there is no expression de ririgueur

  17. Paul Brown

    Turning and turning
    Within the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer
    Things fall apart
    The center cannot hold
    And a blood dimmed tide
    Is loosed upon the world

    Nothing is sacred
    The ceremony sinks
    Innocence is drowned
    In anarchy
    The best lack conviction
    Given some time to think
    And the worst are full of passion
    Without mercy

    Surely some revelation is at hand
    Surely it's the second coming
    And the wrath has finally taken form
    For what is this rough beast
    Its hour come at last
    Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born
    Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born

    Hoping and hoping
    As if by my weak faith
    The spirit of this world
    Would heal and rise
    Vast are the shadows
    That straddle and strafe
    And struggle in the darkness
    Troubling my eyes

    Shaped like a lion
    It has the head of a man
    With a gaze as blank
    And pitiless as the sun
    And it's moving its slow thighs
    Across the desert sands
    Through dark indignant
    Reeling falcons

    Surely some revelation is at hand
    Surely it's the second coming
    And wrath has finally taken form
    For what is this rough beast
    Its hour come at last
    Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born
    Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born

    Raging and raging
    It rises from the deep
    Opening its eyes
    After twenty centuries
    Vexed to a nightmare
    Out of a stony sleep
    By a rocking cradle
    By the Sea of Galilee

    Surely some revelation is at hand
    Surely it's the second coming
    And wrath has finally taken form
    For what is this rough beast
    Its hour come at last
    Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born
    Slouching toward Bethlehem to be born

    ArkAN udDin YaSin

    Wow. Thanks.

  18. Marcius Nery

    Masterpiece.

  19. TheMonolake

    joni and bob im so fortunate to live in these times.......love and peace

  20. James Palazzi

    Joni Mitchell was always one of the sweetest woman I've ever listen to She had a lot of things going through her mind and she spit them out so well Thank you

  21. michael liva

    Very timely indeed. "the poem was written in the aftermath of the of the first world war..." Given today's political climate, the poem speaks to the hypocrisy and the values of POTUS. History will teach us nothing.

  22. Peter Dickinson

    Joni got a big part of me with Court and Spark. The sound of her heart is life giving. I remember Keith Green was made welcome by this lovely lady. His biography No Compromise is worth reading more than once. The Prodigal Suite as are many of his songs timeless. Being thankful for a life of infinite worth is good for your general and mental fitness. Don't lose sight of the invisible Christ there is no other can save you from this corruption the world and it's desires pass away but the one who does the particular will of God by the power of the Holy Spirit will live forever in paradise beyond compare to all this world's delight. No more sin no more death. Seek the truth He is anxiously waiting for you to embrace His kingdom and the peace that this world cannot sustain!

  23. Susan Mazzella

    Joan Didion inspired-title of her book of essays and content of book to song!

  24. Fred Verillo

    This describes the state of politics in the world and in our country "things fall apart, the center cannot hold and a blood dimmed tide is loosed upon the world" "For what is this rough beast, its hour come at last"... to be sure this beast is the fake president that sits in the white house in 2018. Thank you Joni, my guiding light since 1968.

    NIN JAH

    Since 74 courage my brother forward we go!

    da5idnz

    Actually, I think Trump _saved_ us from the "blood dimmed tide" that Hillary would surely have unleashed on the land...

    Christopher Andrus

    +
    Fred, you make the same mistake that Christians have made for 2 millennia. Many rulers have been called the Anti-Christ. But none has proven to be this, not even such monsters as Hitler, Stalin or Mao. I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt that Donald Trump will prove to be this. Though I have problems with a lot of what he says and writes, nothing that he has done to this point has suggested this.

    Your opinion of President Trump reflects a common personal response to him. It has been said that difficult people are a test of one's character. Well, the current POTUS is certainly such a person. But your response also reflects the fact that you have a different worldview than him and his supporters. You are no doubt a progressive, while President Trump and his supporters are conservatives. That we have this difference is perfectly fine as long as you show respect and tolerance toward those of us who differ with you.

    Unfortunately, the reaction of millions to President Trump shows that they are self-righteous and look down on him and those who agree with and support him. And such people also tend to be intolerant both of our President and his views and all who agree with him (namely, all conservatives) and want to silence them, even if it means destroying them personally so that their own "progressive views" will prevail in society. It was really no different with President George W. Bush and President Reagan. But this tendency has become much more virulent today. And it is this type of attitude, one that falsely assumes that GOP = evil, that is far more destructive and tyrannical than anything that President Trump has done (to this point at least).

  25. cathectio

    Elsewise known as the CRIOSPHINX .... those of us who know, aren't talking, and those who are talking, dont know.

  26. red drib

    Personally, I'm tearing apart in satisfaction and bloodlust hearing this. Wretched and content from dignified solitude. Knackered and kind.
    Ready to pull the trigger

  27. Derek Mooney

    Yeats is probably my favourite poet and I have nearly every Joni CD but this is beyond words...I think if any other singer/musician attempted this, I'd want to shoot them :), but Joni...simply a masterpiece...

  28. Tom Sparks

    Defines the human soul. ......who could ever emulate her? No one. And what would we do if she never shared and etched these truths borne of the prescient artist, poet, philosopher for which she will always be known. I'm glad to have lived in the same time as her. Thank you Joni for sharing your muses for all seeking their own.

    Tod Donobedian

    Beautifully said.

    Jonathan Holleb

    Many songwriters are influenced by Joni...But, there will never be another Joni Mitchell.

  29. K tiffy

    such an absolutely stunning album

    Gerg Rogers

    Truly it is. This record never got its true credit.

  30. Tony Philpott

    One thing that mystifies me is this; How would the estate of the world's most renowned romantic poet have granted the rights to someone who would abbreviate, and even alter his original words? This must be the most authoritative tribute to Joni Mitchell, some understanding of her work must have influenced those who protect the legacy of Yeats. No matter how it happened, she is, and will always be, a joy.

    Ian Williams

    Tony Philpott - The poem was written in 1920, in the US at least, it's in the Public Domain

    Tony Philpott

    Thanks, Ian. I didn't know that. The Yeats estate are so very protective, I simply thought Joni would have required permission. But who cares, she totally took the poem to heart and re-expressed it so beautifully in music.

    John Shore

    As I remember, as of 1985 the estate still had some say. I remember hearing that they nixed a plan by Van Morrison to include one of Yeats' poems on his album, although he was later able to release it.

    Gerg Rogers

    The Yeats estate should count their blessings. Joni advanced his beautiful scribblings years after his passage from this world as something that inspired her to "paraphrase" him in her own timeless take. From my own perspective, the timeless artist doing the timeless artist is something to be cherished, revered, and respected on all fronts.

    Charlie Savoie

    A few of Yeat's lines suffer for the changes I think, but I love this song. It probably makes it into my top 10 all time favorite songs by anyone.

    "And it's moving its slow thighs
    Across the desert sands
    Through dark indignant
    Reeling falcons"

    Does not convey the same imagery as:

    "Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds".

  31. Troubleshooter125

    I can thank Joni for teaching me Yeats' work with this lovely piece.

    Alatar

    I thank Yeats for inspiring Joni .

  32. Mridowindows

    Teats set to music.  Brilliant!!!

    Mridowindows

    Sorry Yeats

    ImNotMad ButUR

    Thanks for, instead of editing, leaving it, and allowing us all a laugh! Not at your expense, just a shared laugh - with you!

  33. Rae Zola

    great piece

  34. Roger Beck

    sure fits the moment.....def sad sad times...

  35. peter sommerville

    turning

    Jeff Blythe

    Joni saved my life.

  36. Yves Gerard

    My Joni Mitchell's favorite song ... For ever ...

  37. Jackie Hayden

    A superb song based on a remarkable poem.

  38. hank rosenfeld

    Opening guitar similar to FOR THE ROSES, "I heard it in the wind last night…."
    NOTE TO O'BRIEN: Her abridged reading is waaaay better than the fellow doing the original on this site: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172062

    Christopher O'Brien

    +hank rosenfeld that may be, but my opinion remains unchanged. Just because her version may be better than another reading does not make hers good.

  39. Christopher O'Brien

    A dull rendition that renders the poems sense of menace and forbidding flat.

    red drib

    @Christopher
    I think of her music as the storm though: echos of fear, elusive and gutless against the rebirth and majesty of the great unholy beast.
    it's a visual adornment to the poem, couldn't possibly reinforce it.

    red drib

    I guess that if she tried to superimpose her will onto those project by the words, it'd rob the poem of its timeless meaning, it'd be like trying to pass for Yeats.
    That makes sense.

    Dhir Am

    Poets feel they can take liberty with other poets' work sometimes and Joni takes it to a place to which she feels Yeats would not object. Familiarity does not as often breed contempt in them. It does not bother me at all. Plus how purist can we be when we fill the section with shit and ass and idiot and loser and what have you? Not the shape of a lion...

    Arlene Threfall

    a dull assessment by a cloth eared idiot-

    Beverly McCoy

    I couldn’t disagree more. Both are rife with foreboding, a loss of innocence and a sense of chaos. There’s nothing dull about it. I have a visceral response to both the poem and the song. I think she did an incredible job capturing the essence of the poem.

  40. Lydia Wilson

    still gives me chills

  41. Kathy Zimmerman

    Very timely.  The best lack conviction and the worst are full of passion without mercy.  Thank you so much Joni.  You are my lifetime artist.

    Mridowindows

    Kathy - This is a poem written in 1919 by Y.B.Yeats

    Isabelle & JB Fourcade

    It is a beautiful poem, and even more subtle and devastating in the words, 'the worst are full of passionate intensity'. I love Joni's version but wish she'd kept that original line.

    Karen Kressenberg

    and nothing has changed...

    marie countryman

    Mridowindows 1916 was the event

    Steve Clark

    Kathy Zimmerman Even more relevant than when it was first written, 1919 or more recently or today! Love Joni! X

  42. dean b

    The guitar in this is just perfect.

  43. InnerCityGirl1

    This is another great song by Joni; the lyrics are actually the text of 'Second Coming', a poem by William Butler Yeats. It was my dad's favourite poem and Joni is my favourite singer, so it crystallises something for me.

    Karen Kressenberg

    it is derived from that, but not identical!

    Steve Beck

    The poem is one of my favorites too, with Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening"
    I live close to his cabin at Breadloaf.

    DoinTimeOnEarth

    She could sing the alphabet & make it sound Spectacular 💕

  44. jimmy burgess

    i hadnt thought of this cut in years yet while watching the morning news, this song pops in my head...so i HAD to find and hear it..:-)

  45. Dougie Slats

    And no one as fine.

  46. Marcy Brown

    no one finer.

  47. Wendy Feldhaus

    I really like this Joni, Thanks!