Modernism and “The Waste Land”
Poetry Mental health comment. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? He do the Police in different voices. What was lost by the rejection of this title Eliot might have felt compelled to restore by commenting on the commonalities of his characters in his note about Tiresias , stating that 'What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem.
In the end, the title Eliot chose was The Waste Land. In his first note to the poem he attributes the title to Jessie L. Weston 's book on the Grail legend, From Ritual to Romance. The allusion is to the wounding of the Fisher King and the subsequent sterility of his lands; to restore the King and make his lands fertile again, the Grail questor must ask, "What ails you?
The poem's title is often mistakenly given as "Waste Land" as used by Weston or "Wasteland", omitting the definite article. However, in a letter to Ezra Pound, Eliot politely insisted that the title was three words beginning with "The". In English, it reads: "I saw with my own eyes the Sibyl of Cumae hanging in a jar, and when the boys said, Sibyl, what do you want?
Following the epigraph is a dedication added in a republication that reads "For Ezra Pound: il miglior fabbro ". Here Eliot is both quoting line of Canto XXVI of Dante 's Purgatorio , the second cantica of the Divine Comedy , where Dante defines the troubadour Arnaut Daniel as "the best smith of the mother tongue", and also Pound's title of chapter 2 of his The Spirit of Romance where he translated the phrase as "the better craftsman". The text of the poem is followed by several pages of notes, purporting to explain his metaphors, references, and allusions. Some of these notes are helpful in interpreting the poem, but some are arguably even more puzzling, and many of the most opaque passages are left unannotated.
The notes were added after Eliot's publisher requested something longer to justify printing The Waste Land in a separate book. There is some question as to whether Eliot originally intended The Waste Land to be a collection of individual poems additional poems were supplied to Pound for his comments on including them or to be considered one poem with five sections. The structure of the poem is also meant to loosely follow the vegetation myth and Holy Grail folklore surrounding the Fisher King story as outlined by Jessie Weston in her book From Ritual to Romance Weston's book was so central to the structure of the poem that it was the first text that Eliot cited in his "Notes on the Waste Land".
The style of the poem is marked by the hundreds of allusions and quotations from other texts classic and obscure; " highbrow " and " lowbrow " that Eliot peppered throughout the poem. In addition to the many "highbrow" references and quotes from poets like Baudelaire , Shakespeare , Ovid , and Homer , as well as Wagner 's libretti, Eliot also included several references to "lowbrow" genres. The style of the work in part grows out of Eliot's interest in exploring the possibilities of dramatic monologue. This interest dates back at least as far as " The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock ".
The Waste Land is not a single monologue like "Prufrock".
Instead, it is made up of a wide variety of voices sometimes in monologue, dialogue, or with more than two characters speaking. The Waste Land is notable for its seemingly disjointed structure, indicative of the Modernist style of James Joyce 's Ulysses which Eliot cited as an influence and which he read the same year that he was writing The Waste Land. He also includes phrases from multiple foreign languages Latin, Greek, Italian, German, French and Sanskrit , indicative of Pound's influence. In , E.
Forster wrote about The Waste Land : . Let me go straight to the heart of the matter, fling my poor little hand on the table, and say what I think The Waste Land is about. It is about the fertilizing waters that arrived too late. It is a poem of horror. The earth is barren, the sea salt, the fertilizing thunderstorm broke too late. And the horror is so intense that the poet has an inhibition and is unable to state it openly. What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images.
He cannot say ' Avaunt! Consequently, there are outworks and blind alleys all over the poem—obstacles which are due to the nature of the central emotion, and are not to be charged to the reader. The Waste Land is Mr. Eliot's greatest achievement. It intensifies the drawing-room premonitions of the earlier poems, and it is the key to what is puzzling in the prose. But, if I have its hang, it has nothing to do with the English tradition in literature, or law or order, nor, except incidentally, has the rest of his work anything to do with them either.
It is just a personal comment on the universe, as individual and as isolated as Shelley 's Prometheus. Gerard Manly Hopkins is a case in point—a poet as difficult as Mr.
The Waste Land: The Burial of the Dead Summary
Eliot, and far more specialized ecclesiastically, yet however twisted his diction and pietistic his emotion, there is always a hint to the layman to come in if he can, and participate. Eliot does not want us in.
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He feels we shall increase the barrenness. John's Revelations.
Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees , in fact, is the substance of the poem. The whole passage from Ovid is of great anthropological interest Arbiter hic igitur sumptus de lite iocosa Dicta Iovis firmat; gravius Saturnia iusto Nec pro materia fertur doluisse suique Iudicis aeterna damnavit lumina nocte, At pater omnipotens neque enim licet inrita cuiquam Facta dei fecisse deo pro lumine adempto Scire futura dedit poenamque levavit honore.
And so they decided to ask the judgment of wise Tiresias. He knew both sides of love. For once, with a blow of his staff he had outraged two huge serpents mating in the green forest; and, wonderful to relate, from man he was changed into a woman, and in that form spent seven years. He therefore, being asked to arbitrate the playful dispute of the gods, took sides with Jove.
Saturnia [Juno], they say, grieved more deeply than she should and than the issue warranted, and condemned the arbitrator to perpetual blindness.
But the Almighty Father for no god may undo what another god has done in return for the loss of sight gave Tiresias the power to know the future, lightening the penalty by the honour. Some years after the marriage of the King of Thebes, Oedipus, who was married to Jocasta, the wife of the former king, Laios, a terrible plague befell Thebes.
Oedipus is told by the Delphic oracle that the wasted city is polluted by the presence of the former king's murderer in it. The blind prophet Tiresias tells Oedipus that he, in pronouncing a terrible curse on the slayer, lies under his own curse, that the murderer is a Theban, and that he is the brother of his own children.
The Waste Land
Witness to incest here, Tiresias later on, after Oedipus has been exposed, has blinded himself, and has left Thebes, is also witness to the further disasters that the family of Laios has brought upon itself. Oedipus's two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, agree to share the kingdom between them, and reign alternately year by year. Eteocles, who starts, refuses to surrender the throne after his allotted time, and Polynices gains the support of the King of Argos to war against his brother.
Eteocles consults Tiresias about the ultimate issue, and the seer declares that victory will fall to Thebes if Menoeceus, the son of Creon statesman-counsellor to Oedipus and the state , will sacrifice himself. The boy does so, but though Thebes is victor the two brothers kill one another, and Antigone their sister commits suicide in the end. Tiresias has watched both the murder and incest that made Thebes a plague-ridden waste land, and the self-slaughter and civil war that is a precondition of its purification.
Eliot may also have had in mind Robert Louis Stevenson's poem, "Requiem": Here he lies where he longed to be, Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill. PA A2 Robarts Library.