This is the hardest poem I ve ever read Certainly, the difficulty experienced when reading something is not enough reason to leave a bad review I m currently readingUlysses, a notoriously difficult book, but I am enjoying it nonetheless This, however, is an entirely different creature Despite being an English student I do find poetry difficult It may be because of my background I transferred from sciences into English, so I had very little experience beyond a few poems I read at school So when I entered the world of poetry at degree level I was way out of my depth It took me a long time to catch up on what I d missed, and it took me even longer to actually enjoy poetry The point is reading poetry is different to reading novels It s harder to do, and I have to concentrate greatly to do it But, every so often, when you find the right poem for you, it takes you away as you become lost in a mirage of words, images and metaphors And sometimes, it strikes a chord within you and you feel everything the poem is saying The Waste Land does none of these things Instead it bombards you with countless intertextual references and information In order to gain a thorough a succinct understanding of this poem, a poem that takes no longer than thirty minutes to read, I would likely have to spend five six hours researching the meaning of the terminology, phrasing and historical mentions That s how difficult it is Perhaps if I was a white middle class, highly educated man from the nineteen twenties then I might be able to appreciate this poem But, as it stands, I m not The worse thing about the poem for me is its lack of coherency This in itself is not a bad thing It s a modernist text this is what modernist authors did But, when combined with the fact that the surface level of the writing is near incomprehensible to me, it became rather a painful experience to read it There are some obvious things to take from the poem It is post world war one and the content is an image of the destruction that followed, the deprivation, the sadness, the darkness and, of course, the actually wasted land ruined by war But these images aren t enough for me to enjoy the poem It would be like reading Shakespeare sThe Tempest and coming to the conclusion that it is a play about the follies of revenge This is true, but it is also about many other things that combine to form a piece of artistic brilliance When I readThe Waste Land I feel stupid I feel like I m reading something that I cannot quite understand, and this annoys me I feel like at times T.S Elliot is being pretentious, inserting references just do demonstrate his intellect rather than contribute something meaningful to the poem at large And I don t like it I don t want to find out what they mean For me this poem is everything great poetry shouldn t be But this is just my opinion For the right reader this poem would be excellence itself However, it s not something I d personally recommend And, if that wasn t enough, as a side note, T.S Eliot is highly critical towards Shelley we could never get on April is the cruellest month, breedingLilacs out of the dead land, mixingMemory and desire, stirringDull roots with spring rain The above mentioned lines mark one of the most profound onsets in the history of modernist literature and perhaps with eruption of the highly dense, heart pounding effusion, a magical spell envelops the reader who would be kept shifting between time and space, embark and decay of civilization, prophecy and satire, philosophy and faith, life and death throughout the mind clouding, breath taking journey of around 433 lines of which, some can stand on their own alone protruding their beings through the undulations of nothingness The ghostly but spectral voyage starts with The burial of dead , takes one along through the graveyards, stony mystical landscapes to hyacinth gardens, up to the magical but heart poundings scenes exuded out of mystery of tarot cards At times, one might feel lost as if something unknown but with mighty prowess is carrying one to nowhere but then a sudden clout strikes your consciousness with a colossal impact, you are taken aback by sudden surge of the intensity as you come to Unreal Cityand out of nowhere, death strikes you, Dantes Inferno emerges out of cloud of your memory You are taken through threads of life emerging out from dead The game of black and white squares, arranged in an alternate manner to give a checkered impression, brings you to the stark absurdity of life the change of Philomel embodies the absurdness prevailed in the life of Philomel which who has been transformed by gods, but as a compensation, and who cries her heart out of agony yet the world is so deaf and insensitive to her anguish that it occurs a heart rending song to it You are blown further on gust of wind towards a nether world where the most potent questions, but disguised under the sheath of ignorance or perhaps incompetence , surge up by opening grand ferocious arms, from the depth of being and nothingness The idea of The Waste Land perhaps seems to be sprouted out of modern problems the war, industrialization, abortion, urban life which the poet addresses in it and at the same time to participate in a literary tradition Eliot once, famously, wrote his friend Conrad AkeinIt s interesting to cut yourself to pieces once in a while and wait to see if the fragments will sprout , the imagination of Eliot resembles the decaying land that is the subject of the poem nothing seems to take root among the stony rubbish left behind by old poems and scraps of popular culture As the other poems of Eliot are, The Waste Land is highly symbolic and extensively use allusions, quotations in several languages , a variety of verse forms, and a collage of poetic fragments to create the sense of speaking for an entire culture in crisis It s a poem of radical doubt and negation, urging that every human desire be stilled except the desire for self surrender, for restraint, and for peace The poets has blend satire and absurdity so well that it looks probably a superhuman task to determine whether the use of some themes rhymes, in way which cajoles a seemingly comic effect, is deliberate or accidental as surfaces up The poem is quite meticulously, but effortlessly, written in fragments not like traditional verses which would give altogether different effects to the reader when they are read in fragments or in entirely The poem concludes with a rapid series of allusive literary fragments seven of the last eight lines are quotations As one moves through these quotations, it might occur as if the poem becomes conscious of itself, the being of the poem emanates from the verbose kingdom of words and the poem itself stands in front of the reader staring straight into the eyes of reader and a sudden shiver runs through his her spine to realize what has just traverses through the scanner of conscious eyes I sat upon the shoreFishing, with the arid plain behind meShall I at least set my lands in order London Bridge in falling down falling down falling downPoi s ascose mel foco che gil affinaQuando fiam uti chelidon O swallow swallowLe Prince d Acquitane a la tour abolieThese fragments I have shored against my ruinsWhy then Ile fir you Hieronymo s mad againe.Datta Dayadhvam Damyata Shantih shantih shantih It s a great achievement in modernist art but one needs to be patient to truly feel the shivers of its magical existence as it s a characteristic of modernism, the appreciation of the poem demands devotional labor as well as a sympathetic imagination Beneath these meticulously crafted poetics lay assumptions about art that were curiously religious, and that fostered theories of poetry as a liturgy for the elect.ExcerptsThe Burial of Dead Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could notSpeak, and my eyes failed, I was neitherLiving or dead, and I knew nothing,Looking into the heart of light, the silence.O ed und leer das Meer.Unreal City,Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,I had not thought death had undone so many.Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,And each man fixed his eyes before his feet WHAT THE THUNDER SAID Who is the third who walks always beside youWhen I count, there are only you and I togetherBut when I look ahead up the white roadThere is always another one walking beside youGilding wrapt in a brown mantle, hoodedI do not know whether a man or a woman But who is that on the other side of you Datta what have we given My friend, blood shaking my heartThe awful dancing of a moment s surrenderWhich an age of prudence can never retractBy this, and this only, we have existed. The Text Of Eliot S Masterpiece Is Accompanied By Thorough Explanatory Annotations As Well As By Eliot S Own Knotty Notes, Some Of Which Require Annotation ThemselvesFor Ease Of Reading, This Norton Critical Edition Presents The Waste Land As It First Appeared In The American Edition Boni Liveright , With Eliot S Notes At The End Contexts Provides Readers With Invaluable Materials On The Waste Land S Sources, Composition, And Publication History Criticism Traces The Poem S Reception With Twenty Five Reviews And Essays, From First Reactions Through The End Of The Twentieth Century Included Are Reviews Published In The Times Literary Supplement, Along With Selections By Virginia Woolf, Gilbert Seldes, Edmund Wilson, Elinor Wylie, Conrad Aiken, Charles Powell, Gorham Munson, Malcolm Cowley, Ralph Ellison, John Crowe Ransom, I A Richards, F R Leavis, Cleanth Brooks, Del Schwartz, Denis Donoghue, Robert Langbaum, Marianne Thorm Hlen, A D Moody, Ronald Bush, Maud Ellman, And Tim Armstrong A Chronology And Selected Bibliography Are Included I would not presume to offer anything approaching a definitive judgment of this unique and influential poem, a poem which presents us in early modernist fashion with a provocative collage of voices and scenes, fragments which Eliot has collected from the heap of broken images that litter the desert of our culture, but which he presents in a way that grants them new terror and new poignancy, in a way that shows us fear in a handful of dust and hints if only by its absence at the possibility of a greener world to come.First off, let me say I was disappointed in this little edition I picked it up initially because it contained an introduction by Paul Maldoon, an Irish poet with a reputation for allusiveness and obscurity just the sort to illuminate this fragmentary and cryptic masterpiece But his introduction is brief and not terribly helpful, and his enthusiasm for Irish literature leads him to see literary connections where they do not exist For example, although I believe he is correct when he says the Nighttown episode of Ulysses is a major influence on the poem, he is mistaken when he speculates that Eliot s working title for it, He Do the Police in Different Voices is also derived from this episode It is actually a quotation from a character in Dicken s A Mutual Friend, who is describing the oral reading technique of her precocious foster child, how he brings to life the crime stories published in the sensational magazine, The Police Gazette I was also disappointed in the lack of notes I was looking for extensive annotations, because I need them to help me unmask many references in this often obscure poem But when they said notes, I guess the editors just meant Eliot s original notes, which are almost invariably appended to the poem anyway, whatever the edition.I ll end by reproducing a few passages which illustrate something I noticed for the first time this reading the large number of gothic and decadent images in this poem In spite of its classical allusions, modernist structure and tone, we are still not that far from the decadent 90 s hereThat corpse you planted last year in your garden, Has it begun to sprout Will it bloom this year Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed Oh keep the Dog far hence, that s friend to men, Or with his nails he ll dig it up again You hypocrite lecteur mon semblable, mon fr re In vials of ivory and coloured glass Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes, Unguent, powdered, or liquid troubled, confused And drowned the sense in odours Above the antique mantel was displayed As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king So rudely forced And other withered stumps of time Were told upon the walls staring forms Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed A rat crept softly through the vegetation Dragging its slimy belly on the bank White bodies naked on the low damp ground And bones cast in a little low dry garret, Rattled by the rat s foot only, year to year Who is the third who walks always beside you When I count, there are only you and I together But when I look ahead up the white road There is always another one walking beside you Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded I do not know whether a man or a woman But who is that on the other side of you A woman drew her long black hair out tight And fiddled whisper music on those strings And bats with baby faces in the violet light Whistled, and beat their wings And crawled head downward down a blackened wall And upside down in air were towers Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells In this decayed hole among the mountains In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel There is the empty chapel, only the wind s home It has no windows, and the door swings, Dry bones can harm no one Only a cock stood on the rooftree Co co rico co co rico In a flash of lightning Then a damp gust Bringing rain The Waste Land, T.S Eliot The Waste Land is a long poem by T S Eliot, widely regarded as one of the most important poems of the 20th century and a central work of modernist poetry Published in 1922, the 434 line poem first appeared in the United Kingdom in the October issue of Eliot s The Criterion and in the United States in the November issue of The Dial It was published in book form in December 1922 Among its famous phrases are April is the cruellest month , I will show you fear in a handful of dust , and the mantra in the Sanskrit language Shantih shantih shantih.The poem s structure is divided into five sections The first section, The Burial of the Dead, introduces the diverse themes of disillusionment and despair The second, A Game of Chess, employs vignettes of several characters alternating narrations that address those themes experientially The Fire Sermon, the third section, offers a philosophical meditation in relation to the imagery of death and views of self denial in juxtaposition influenced by Augustine of Hippo and eastern religions After a fourth section, Death by Water, which includes a brief lyrical petition, the culminating fifth section, What the Thunder Said, concludes with an image of judgment 2002 1334 1343 1350 1357 1362 1377 Some people are born to become the trendsetters and I will say that T S Eliot has opened the new gates to poetry after the publication of his masterpiece The Waste Land Poetry was supposed to be about lyrics and music only He created a different kind of disturbing music but that rang to the ears the alarming sound of perversion in humanity The Waste Land will be remembered for its uniqueness and incompleteness and even then, for creating a new trend I read a lot of poems as an English major back in the day Not many have stuck with me over the years, but The Waste Land is one of them T.S Eliot s lamentation of the spiritual drought in our day, the waste land of our Western society, lightened by a few fleeting glimpses of hope It s fragmented, haunting, laden with symbolism and allusions, and utterly brilliant A diverse cast of characters take turns narrating the poem, or having their conversations overheard by the narrator, including a Lithuanian countess, reminiscing about her childhood and life I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter a prophetic voice, like Ezekiel, examining the barrenness of civilization Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter Madame Sosostris, a famous but fake clairvoyant, telling a fortune with tarot cards I do not find the Hanged Man Fear death by water I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring Thank you a bored woman of leisure, talking to her husband, who answers in his mind What are you thinking of What thinking What I never know what you are thinking Think I think we are in rats alley Where the dead men lost their bones Two women talking in a bar about sex and abortion Now Albert s coming back, make yourself a bit smart He ll want to know what you done with that money he gave you To get yourself some teeth and many Those are just the main ones in the first two of five sections Symbols of drought and fertility, spiritual waste and renewal, surface and resurface, showing a different facet each time I d forgotten that the Holy Grail cup and Holy Lance spear doubled as a nifty set of female male sexual symbols This is a poem that deserves to be read, taken apart and studied, and then simply read again and appreciated These fragments I have shored against my ruins I still have my 2600 page The Norton Anthology of English Literature, which has extensive analysis and footnotes It also has my helpful handwritten margin notes from 30 years ago, written in the most amazingly lovely, minuscule handwriting imaginable seriously, the letters are about a half a millimeter high that I could never in a million years recreate now. I quite often cite the famous line April is the cruellest month completely out of context And I happily refer to The Waste Land and Eliot s Nobel Prize when I do.However, I can t say I ever understood the long trail of lines that it contains, even though I read it several times.And most bizarre of all, I don t even agree with my favourite quote from it FEBRUARY is the cruellest month dark and cold and wet, and no end in sight Somehow, I don t think I missed the point of the poem though, by misquoting, by disagreeing with the statement, and by not getting it at all I think The Waste Land means just that human confusion on all levels expressed in poetic language.February is the stupidest month too, so I might be wrong. I m trying to write a term paper on this poem key word is trying and then I realized, hey, I should waste some time by writing a review of the poem on Goodreads So here we are Here s my thing about T.S Eliot the man is ungodly brilliant and I love almost everything he s written Does this mean I understand a single goddamn word of it Of course not But and this is the great part that doesn t matter Eliot has been quoted as saying he s perfectly aware that no one has any idea what his poems are about, and he s perfectly cool with that Understanding Eliot s poems is not the point the point is to recognize that he writes with incredible skill and to just lose yourself in the words My Lit book, How to Read a Poem, said it best Eliot is often see as an intellectually difficult, fearfully elitist writer, and so in some ways he was But he was also the kind of poet who put little store by erudite allusions, and professed himself quite content to have his poetry read by those who had little idea what it meant It was form the material stuff of language itself, its archaic resonances and tentacular roots which mattered most to him In fact, he once claimed to have enjoyed reading Dante in the original even before he could understand ItalianIn some ways a semi literate would have been Eliot s ideal reader He was of a primitivist than a sophisticate He was interested in what a poem did, not what it said in the resonances of the signifier, the lures of its music, the hauntings of its grains and textures, the subterranean workings of what one can only call the poem s unconscious Translation in Eliot s eyes, we are all uncultured idiots, and he wouldn t have it any other way So, for those of you struggling to get through the wordy, allusion tastic, multiple language maze that is The Waste Land, I can only tell you this Relax and just enjoy the ride You have nothing to fear T.S Eliot loves you Read for Perspectives on Literature You know, one of the greatest poems of the 20th century and that kind of thing I must know a fair amount of it by heart Here s a story about The Waste Land that some people may find amusing Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate in Cambridge, a friend of mine asked me for advice on how to impress female Eng Lit majors Well, I said, you could do worse than use The Waste Land Just memorise a few lines, and you ll probably be able to bluff successfully.We did some rehearsals, and eventually agreed on the following script He would start off by quoting the first few lines April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain And then he would say, But that s not my favourite bit and quote the following What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish Son of man, You cannot say, or guess He tried it out a couple of times, and it worked Female Eng Lit majors, I apologise for assisting with this deception It wasn t very nice of me.
Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, dramatist and literary critic He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present day poetry He wrote the poems The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party and the essay Tradition and the
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- The Waste Land
- T.S. Eliot
- 10 November 2019 T.S. Eliot