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Encyclopedia > The Waste Land

The Waste Land (1922)[1] is a highly influential 434-line[2] modernist poem by T. S. Eliot. Despite the alleged obscurity of the poem – its shifts between satire and prophecy, its abrupt and unannounced changes of speaker, location and time, its elegiac but intimidating summoning up of a vast and dissonant range of cultures and literatures – the poem has nonetheless become a familiar touchstone of modern literature. Among its famous phrases are "April is the cruellest month" (its first line); "I will show you fear in a handful of dust"; and the Sanskrit "Shantih shantih shantih" (its last line). // Pulitzer Prize for Poetry established The Criterion appears William Butler Yeats Who goes with Fergus (first published in 1892 is the song James Joyce has his character Stephen Daedalus sing to his mother as she lies dying in the novel Ulysses, published this year (the poem was Joyces favorite... a poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which brought him to prominence. ... For other persons named Thomas Eliot, see Thomas Eliot (disambiguation). ... 1867 edition of Punch, a ground-breaking British magazine of popular humour, including a good deal of satire of the contemporary social and political scene. ... For other uses, see Prophecy (disambiguation). ... The Narrator is the entity within a story that tells the story to the reader. ... In fiction, the setting of a story is the time and location in which it takes place. ... Elegiac refers either to those compositions that are like elegies or to a specific poetic meter used in Classical elegies. ... This article is homosexual and should be burned the second in a series of The History of Literature. ... This article or section needs additional references or sources to improve its verifiability. ... Sanskrit ( , for short ) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. ... Shanti (from Sanskrit शािन्‍त śāntiḥ) can mean: Inner peace Ksanti, is one of the paramitas of Buddhism Shanti Project, a group providing support and guidance for people with life-threatening illnesses Shanti (television series), with Mandira Bedi Shanti/Astangi, a 1998 song by Madonna Shanti (film), a 2003 Indian film Shanti...


Composition history

A photograph of T.S. Eliot taken by E.O. Hoppé in 1919.

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...


Eliot probably worked on what was to become The Waste Land for several years preceding its first publication in 1922. In a letter to John Quinn dated 9 May 1921, Eliot wrote that he had "a long poem in mind and partly on paper which I am wishful to finish."[3] John Quinn (1870-1924) was an Irish-American corporate lawyer in New York, who for a time was an important patron of major figures of post-impressionism and literary modernism, and collector in particular of original manuscripts. ...

Richard Aldington, in his memoirs, relates that "a year or so" before Eliot read him the manuscript draft of The Waste Land in London, Eliot visited him in the country. While walking through a graveyard, they started discussing Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. Aldington writes: "I was surprised to find that Eliot admired something so popular, and then went on to say that if a contemporary poet, conscious of his limitations as Gray evidently was, would concentrate all his gifts on one such poem he might achieve a similar success."[4] Richard Aldington in uniform during World War I Richard Aldington (July 8, 1892 – July 27, 1962), name at birth Edward Godfree Aldington, was an English writer and poet. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... For other uses, see Thomas Gray (disambiguation). ...

Eliot, having been diagnosed with some form of nervous disorder, had been recommended rest, and applied for three months' leave from the bank where he was employed; the reason stated on his staff card was "nervous breakdown". He and his wife Vivien travelled to the coastal resort of Margate for a period of convalescence. While there, Eliot worked on the poem, and possibly showed an early version to Ezra Pound when, after a brief return to London, the Eliots travelled to Paris in November 1921 and were guests of Pound. Eliot was en route to Lausanne, Switzerland, for treatment by Doctor Roger Vittoz, who had been recommended to him by Ottoline Morrell; Vivien was to stay at a sanatorium just outside Paris. In Lausanne, Eliot produced a 19-page version of the poem.[5] He returned from Lausanne in early January 1922. Pound then made detailed editorial comments and significant cuts to the manuscript. Eliot would later dedicate the poem to Pound. Anxiety disorder is a blanket term covering several different forms of abnormal, pathological anxiety, fear, phobia and nervous condition, that may come on suddenly, or gradually over a period of several years, and prevent pursuing normal daily routines. ... For the EP by Black Flag, see Nervous Breakdown. ... Margate is a town in Thanet, Kent, England (population about 60,000). ... Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (Hailey, Idaho Territory, United States, October 30, 1885 – Venice, Italy, November 1, 1972) was an American expatriate poet, critic and intellectual who was a major figure of the Modernist movement in early-to-mid 20th century poetry. ... This article is about the capital of France. ... Lausanne (pronounced ) is a city in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, situated on the shores of Lake Geneva (French: Lac Léman), and facing Évian-les-Bains (France) and with the Jura mountains to its north. ... Lady Ottoline Morrell [1] (June 16, 1873 - April 21, 1938) was an English socialite, friend and patron of many artistic people, including Aldous Huxley, Siegfried Sassoon and D. H. Lawrence. ... Sanatório Heliantia A sanatorium refers to a medical facility for long-term illness, typically cholera or tuberculosis. ...

The manuscript drafts

Eliot sent the manuscript drafts of the poem to John Quinn in October 1922; they reached Quinn in New York in January 1923.[6] Upon Quinn's death they were inherited by his sister, Julia Anderson. Years later, in the early 1950s, Mrs Anderson's daughter, Mary Conroy, found the documents in storage. In 1958 she sold them privately to the New York Public Library. The New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of the leading public libraries of the world and is one of Americas most significant research libraries. ...

It was not until April 1968 that the existence and whereabouts of the manuscript drafts were made known to Valerie Eliot, the poet's second wife and widow.[7] In 1971, Faber and Faber published a "facsimile and transcript" of the original drafts, edited and annotated by Valerie Eliot. The full poem prior to the Pound editorial changes is contained in the facsimile. Valerie Eliot née Esmé Valerie Fletcher is the surviving widow and second wife of the Nobel-prize winning poet Thomas Stearns Eliot. ... Faber and Faber, often abbreviated to Faber, is an independent publishing house in the UK, notable in particular for publishing a great deal of poetry and for its former editor T. S. Eliot. ...


Ezra Pound in 1913. In 1922 he helped Eliot with the editing of The Waste Land.

The drafts of the poem reveal that it originally contained almost twice as much material as the final published version. The significant cuts are in part due to Ezra Pound's suggested changes, although Eliot himself is also responsible for removing large sections. Ezra pound in 1913 from http://www. ... Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (Hailey, Idaho Territory, United States, October 30, 1885 – Venice, Italy, November 1, 1972) was an American expatriate poet, critic and intellectual who was a major figure of the Modernist movement in early-to-mid 20th century poetry. ...

The now famous opening lines of the poem – 'April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, ...' – did not appear until the top of the second page of the typescript. The first page of the typescript contained 54 lines in the sort of street voice that we hear again at the end of the second section, 'A Game of Chess.' This page appears to have been lightly crossed out in pencil by Eliot himself. This article is about the Western board game. ...

Although there are several signs of similar adjustments made by Eliot, and a number of significant comments by Vivien, the most significant editorial input is clearly that of Pound, who recommended many cuts to the poem.

'The typist home at teatime' section was originally in entirely regular stanzas of iambic pentameter, with a rhyme scheme of abab – the same form as Gray's Elegy, which was in Eliot's thoughts around this time. Pound's note against this section of the draft is "verse not interesting enough as verse to warrant so much of it". In the end, the regularity of the four-line stanzas was abandoned. Insert non-formatted text hereIambic pentameter is a meter in poetry. ...

At the beginning of 'The Fire Sermon' in one version, there was a lengthy section in heroic couplets, in imitation of Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. It described one lady Fresca (who appeared in the earlier poem "Gerontion"). As Richard Ellmann describes it, "Instead of making her toilet like Pope's Belinda, Fresca is going to it, like Joyce's Bloom." The lines read: A heroic couplet is a traditional form for English poetry, commonly used for epic and narrative poetry; it refers to poems constructed from a sequence of rhyming pairs of iambic pentameter lines. ... For other uses, see Alexander Pope (disambiguation). ... The New Star, Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for The Rape of the Lock The Rape of the Lock is a mock-heroic poem written by Alexander Pope, first published in 1712 in two cantos, and then reissued in 1714 in a much-expanded 5-canto version. ... Richard Ellmann (March 15, 1918 – May 13, 1987) was a prominent American/British literary critic and biographer of Irish writers such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats. ...

Leaving the bubbling beverage to cool,
Fresca slips softly to the needful stool,
Where the pathetic tale of Richardson
Eases her labour till the deed is done . . .

Ellmann notes "Pound warned Eliot that since Pope had done the couplets better, and Joyce the defecation, there was no point in another round."

Pound also excised some shorter poems that Eliot wanted to insert between the five sections. One of these, that Eliot had entitled 'Dirge', begins

Full fathom five your Bleistein lies
Under the flatfish and the squids.
Graves' Disease in a dead Jew's eyes!
Where the crabs have eat the lids
. . .

At the request of Eliot's wife, Vivien, a line in the A Game of Chess section was removed from the poem: "And we shall play a game of chess/The ivory men make company between us/Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door". This section is apparently based on their marital life, and she may have felt these lines too revealing. The "ivory men" line must have meant something to Eliot though; in 1960, thirteen years after Vivien's death, he inserted the line in a copy made for sale to aid the London Library. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Year 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The London Library is the worlds largest independent lending library, located in Londons St. ...

In a late December 1921 letter to Eliot to celebrate the "birth" of the poem Pound wrote a bawdy poem of 48 lines entitled "Sage Homme" in which he identified Eliot as the mother of the poem but compared himself to the midwife.[8] Some of the verses are:

E. P. hopeless and unhelped
Enthroned in the marmorean skies
His verse omits realities,
Angelic hands with mother of pearl
Retouch the strapping servant girl,
Balls and balls and balls again
Can not touch his fellow men.
His foaming and abundant cream
Has coated his world. The coat of a dream;
Or say that the upjut of sperm
Has rendered his sense pachyderm.

Publishing history

Before the editing had even begun Eliot found a publisher.[9] Horace Liveright of the New York publishing firm of Boni and Liveright was in Paris for a number of meetings with Ezra Pound. At a dinner on 3 January 1922 he made offers for works by Pound, James Joyce (Ulysses) and Eliot. Eliot was to get a royality of 15% for a book version of the poem planned for autumn publication.[10] Horace Liveright (1884 – September 1933) was an American publisher and stage producer. ... This article is about the writer and poet. ... Ulysses is a novel by James Joyce, first serialized in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on February 2, 1922, in Paris. ...

To maximize his income and get a broader audience for his work Eliot also sought a deal with magazines. Being the London correspondent for The Dial magazine[11] and a college friend of its co-owner and co-editor, Scofield Thayer, the Dial was an ideal choice. Even though the Dial offered $150 (£34)[12] for the poem (25% more than its standard rate) Eliot was offended that a year's work would be valued so low, especially since another contributor was found to have been given an exceptional compensation for a short story.[13] The deal with the Dial almost fell through (other magazines considered were the Little Review and Vanity Fair) but with Pound's efforts eventually a deal was worked out where, in addition to the $150, Eliot would be awarded the Dial magazine's second annual prize for outstanding service to letters. The prize carried an award of $2,000 (£450).[14] The January 1920 issue of the Dial. ... Scofield Thayer (12 December 1889 — 1982) was an American poet and publisher, best known as the publisher of the literary magazine The Dial during the 1920s. ...

In New York in the late summer (with John Quinn, a lawyer and literary patron, representing Eliot's interests) Boni and Liveright made an agreement with The Dial where the magazine would be the first to publish the poem in the US by agreeing to purchase 350 copies of the book at discount from Boni and Liveright.[15] Boni and Liveright would use the publicity of the award of the Dial's prize to Eliot to increase their initial sales.

The poem was first published in the UK, without the author's notes, in the first issue (October 1922) of The Criterion, a literary magazine started and edited by Eliot. The first appearance of the poem in the US was in the November 1922 issue of The Dial magazine (actually published in late October). In December 1922, the poem was published in the US in book form by Boni and Liveright, the first publication to print the notes. In September 1923, the Hogarth Press, a private press run by Eliot's friends Leonard and Virginia Woolf, published the first UK book edition of The Waste Land in an edition of about 450 copies, the type handset by Virginia Woolf. ... The January 1920 issue of the Dial. ... The Hogarth Press was founded in 1917 by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. ... Private Press is a term used in the field of book collecting to describe a printing press operated as a personal enthusiasm, rather than as a purely commercial venture. ... Leonard Woolf (November 25, 1880 – August 14, 1969) married Virginia Woolf in 1912. ... For the American writer, see Virginia Euwer Wolff. ...

The publication history of The Waste Land (as well as other pieces of Eliot's poetry and prose) has been documented by Donald Gallup.[16]

Eliot, whose 1922 salary at Lloyds Bank was £500 ($2,215)[17]made approximately $2,800 (£630) with the Dial, Boni and Liveright and Hogarth Press publications.[18][19]

The title

Eliot originally considered titling the poem He do the Police in Different Voices[20]. In the version of the poem Eliot brought back from Switzerland, the first two sections of the poem – 'The Burial of the Dead' and 'A Game of Chess' – appeared under this title. This strange phrase is taken from Charles Dickens' novel Our Mutual Friend, in which the widow Betty Higden, says of her adopted foundling son Sloppy: "You mightn't think it, but Sloppy is a beautiful reader of a newspaper. He do the Police in different voices." This would help the reader to understand that, while there are many different voices (speakers) in the poem, there is one central consciousness. 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. Dickens redirects here. ... Our Mutual Friend (written in the years 1864–65) is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens. ... Everes redirects here. ...

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 sympathetic sterility of his lands that is caused. To restore the King and make his lands fertile again the Grail questor must ask "What ails you?" Jessie Laidlay Weston (1850-1928) was an independent scholar and folklorist, working mainly on mediaeval Arthurian texts. ... Grail may refer to: Holy Grail Grail (web browser) The grail community of Pinner, England is a group of Catholic women, who have translated the Psalms in a renowned version. ... From Ritual to Romance is a 1921 book written by Jessie L. Weston. ... This article is about the Fisher King from Arthurian legend. ...

The poem's title is often mistakenly given in two ways: "Waste Land" is shortened to "Wasteland" and "The" is omitted. "Waste Land" as two capitalized words comes from Weston's usage and, in a letter to Ezra Pound, Eliot politely insisted that the title include the word "The."[21]


The epigraph and dedication to The Waste Land showing some of the languages that Eliot used in the poem: Latin, Greek, English and Italian.
The epigraph and dedication to The Waste Land showing some of the languages that Eliot used in the poem: Latin, Greek, English and Italian.

The poem is preceded by a Latin and Greek epigraph from The Satyricon of Petronius. In English, it reads: "I saw with my own eyes the Sibyl at Cumae hanging in a jar, and when the boys said to her, Sibyl, what do you want? she replied I want to die." (Petronius cast the question and answer in Greek). A scan of the text of the epigraph and dedication to T. S. Eliots poem The Waste Land (1922. ... A scan of the text of the epigraph and dedication to T. S. Eliots poem The Waste Land (1922. ... For other uses, see Latins and Latin (disambiguation). ... In literature, an epigraph is a quotation that is placed at the start of a work or section that expresses in some succinct way an aspect or theme of what is to follow. ... Satyricon (or Satyrica) is a Latin novel, believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius, though the manuscript text of the Satyricon calls him Titus Petronius. ... This article is about the Roman author Petronius. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Michelangelos rendering of the Cumaean Sibyl The Cumaean Sibyl was the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Cumae, a Greek colony located near Naples, Italy. ... Cumae (Cuma, in Italian) is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. ...

Following the epigraph is a dedication (added in a 1925 republication) that reads "For Ezra Pound: il miglior fabbro" Here Eliot is both quoting line 117 of Canto XXVI of Dante's Purgatorio, the second cantica of The Divine Comedy, where Dante defines the troubadour Arnaldo Daniello as "the best smith of the mother tongue" and also Pound's title of chapter 2 of his The Spirit of Romance (1910) where he translated the phrase as "the better craftsman."[22] This dedication was originally written in ink by Eliot in the 1922 Boni & Liveright paperback edition of the poem presented to Pound; it was subsequently included in future editions.[23] Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (Hailey, Idaho Territory, United States, October 30, 1885 – Venice, Italy, November 1, 1972) was an American expatriate poet, critic and intellectual who was a major figure of the Modernist movement in early-to-mid 20th century poetry. ... Dante redirects here. ... ... For other uses see The Divine Comedy (disambiguation), Dantes Inferno (disambiguation), and The Inferno (disambiguation) Dante shown holding a copy of The Divine Comedy, next to the entrance to Hell, the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory and the city of Florence, with the spheres of Heaven above, in Michelino... Arnaut Danièl was a Provençal troubadour of the 13th century, praised by Dante as il miglior fabbro (the better craftsman/creator, literally the best smith) and called Grand Master of Love by Petrarch. ...

The five parts of The Waste Land are entitled:

  1. The Burial of the Dead
  2. A Game of Chess
  3. The Fire Sermon
  4. Death by Water
  5. What the Thunder Said

The first four sections of the poem correspond to the Greek classical elements of Earth (burial), Air (voices – the draft title for this section was "In the Cage", an image of hanging in air; also, the element of Air is generally thought to be aligned with the intellect and the mind), Fire (passion), and Water (the draft of the poem had additional water imagery in a fishing voyage.) The title of the fifth section could be a reference to the fifth element of Aether, which is included in many mystical traditions (one line here mentions aetherial rumours)[citation needed]. Ancient Greece is the term used to describe the Greek-speaking world in ancient times. ... Many ancient philosophies used a set of archetypal classical elements to explain patterns in nature. ... . Bön . Hinduism (Tattva) and Buddhism (MahābhÅ«ta) Prithvi / Bhumi — Earth Ap / Jala — Water Vayu / Pavan — Air / Wind Agni / Tejas — Fire Akasha — Aether . ... . Bön . Hinduism (Tattva) and Buddhism (MahābhÅ«ta) Prithvi / Bhumi — Earth Ap / Jala — Water Vayu / Pavan — Air / Wind Agni / Tejas — Fire Akasha — Aether . ... . Bön . Hinduism (Tattva) and Buddhism (MahābhÅ«ta) Prithvi / Bhumi — Earth Ap / Jala — Water Vayu / Pavan — Air / Wind Agni / Tejas — Fire Akasha — Aether . ... Chinese Wood (木) | Fire (火) Earth (土) | Metal (金) | Water (æ°´) Japanese Earth (地) | Water (æ°´) | Fire (火) | Air / Wind (風) | Void / Sky / Heaven (空) Hinduism and Buddhism Vayu / Pavan — Air / Wind Agni / Tejas — Fire Akasha — Aether Prithvi / Bhumi — Earth Ap / Jala — Water Water has been important to all peoples of the earth, and it is rich in spiritual tradition. ... For the computer security term, see Phishing. ... Hinduism (Tattva) and Buddhism (MahābhÅ«ta) Vayu / Pavan — Air / Wind Agni/Tejas — Fire Akasha — Aether Prithvi / Bhumi — Earth Ap / Jala — Water Chinese (Wu Xing) Japanese (Godai) Earth (地) | Water (æ°´) | Fire (火) | Air / Wind (風) | Void / Sky / Heaven (空) Bön Māori According to ancient and medieval science, Aether (Greek αἰθήρ, aithÄ“r[1...

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. Many scholars think the notes are peppered with red herring.[citation needed] The notes were added after Eliot's publisher requested something longer to justify printing The Waste Land in a separate book.[24] Ignoratio elenchi (also known as irrelevant conclusion) is the logical fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but which proves or supports a different proposition than the one it is purporting to prove or support. ...

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 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. A dramatic monologue is a type of poem, developed during the Victorian period, in which a character in fiction or in history delivers a speech explaining his or her feelings, actions, or motives. ... The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is the poem that marked the start of T. S. Eliots career as one of the twentieth centurys most influential poets. ...

Eliot also enjoyed the music hall, and something of the flavour of this popular form of entertainment gets into the poem. It follows the pattern of the musical fugue, in which many voices enter throughout the piece re-stating the themes[citation needed]. Music Hall is a form of British theatrical entertainment which reached its peak of popularity between 1850 and 1960. ...

Above all perhaps it is the disjointed nature of the poem, the way it jumps from one adopted manner to another, the way it moves between different voices and makes use of phrases in foreign languages, that is the most distinctive feature of the poem's style. Interestingly, at the same time as Eliot was writing The Waste Land, Robert Bridges was working on the first of his Neo-Miltonic Syllabics, a poem called 'Poor Poll', which also includes lines in several different languages. Bridges on the cover of Time in 1929 Robert Seymour Bridges, OM, (October 23, 1844 – April 21, 1930) was an English poet, holder of the honour of poet laureate from 1913. ... Neo-Miltonic Syllabics is a group of poems written by Robert Bridges between 1921 and 1925, and collected in his book New Verse (1925). ... Poor Poll is a poem written by Robert Bridges in 1921, and first collected in his book New Verse (1925). ...


Sources from which Eliot quotes or to which he alludes include the works of: Homer, Sophocles, Petronius, Virgil, Ovid, Saint Augustine of Hippo, Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Gérard de Nerval, Thomas Kyd, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Middleton, John Webster, Joseph Conrad, John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Charles Baudelaire, Richard Wagner, Oliver Goldsmith, Hermann Hesse, Aldous Huxley, Paul Verlaine, Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker. Eliot also makes extensive use of Scriptural writings including the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, the Hindu Brihad-Aranyaka-Upanishad, and the Buddha's Fire Sermon, and of cultural and anthropological studies such as Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough and Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance (particularly its study of the Wasteland motif in Celtic mythology). This article is about the Greek poet Homer and the works attributed to him. ... This article is about the Greek tragedian. ... This article is about the Roman author Petronius. ... For other uses, see Virgil (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Ovid (disambiguation) Publius Ovidius Naso (March 20, 43 BC – 17 AD) was a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid who wrote on topics of love, abandoned women and mythological transformations. ... Augustinus redirects here. ... Dante redirects here. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Gérard de Nerval (May 22, 1808 – January 26, 1855) was the nom-de-plume of the French poet, essayist and translator Gérard Labrunie, the most essentially Romantic among French poets. ... Thomas Kyd (1558 - 1594) was an English dramatist, the author of The Spanish Tragedy, and one of the most important figures in the development of Elizabethan drama. ... Chaucer redirects here. ... Thomas Middleton (1580 – 1627) was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. ... John Webster (c. ... // Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski; 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924) was a Polish-born English novelist. ... For other persons named John Milton, see John Milton (disambiguation). ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... “Baudelaire” redirects here. ... Richard Wagner Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or music dramas as they were later called). ... Oliver Goldsmith Oliver Goldsmith (November 10, 1730 or 1728 – April 4, 1774) was an Irish writer and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), his pastoral poem The Deserted Village (1770) (written in memory of his brother), and his plays The Good-naturd Man (1768) and... Hermann Hesse (pronounced ) (2 July 1877 – 9 August 1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. ... Aldous Leonard Huxley (July 26, 1894 – November 22, 1963) was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. ... Paul Verlaine Paul-Marie Verlaine (IPA: ; March 30, 1844–January 8, 1896) was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. ... Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist. ... Abraham Bram Stoker (November 8, 1847 – April 20, 1912) was an Irish writer, best remembered as the author of the influential horror novel Dracula. ... For other uses, see Bible (disambiguation). ... For the novel, see A Book of Common Prayer. ... The contents of this page and the pages history have been moved to wikisource:Transwiki:Brihadaranyaka Upanishad via the transwiki system; all future edits should go there. ... The Upanishads (Devanagari: उपिनषद्, IAST: ) are regarded as part of the Vedas and as such form part of the Hindu scriptures. ... Siddhartha and Gautama redirect here. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... This article is about the social science. ... Sir James George Frazer (January 1, 1854, Glasgow, Scotland – May 7, 1941), was a Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion. ... The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). ... Jessie Laidlay Weston (1850-1928) was an independent scholar and folklorist, working mainly on mediaeval Arthurian texts. ... From Ritual to Romance is a 1921 book written by Jessie L. Weston. ... The Wasteland is a Celtic motif that ties the barrenness of a land with a curse that must be lifted by a hero. ... Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, apparently the religion of the Iron Age Celts. ...

Critical reception

The poem's initial reception was mixed; though many hailed its portrayal of universal despair and ingenious technique, others, such as F. L. Lucas, detested the poem from the first, while Charles Powell commented "so much waste paper".[25] Frank Lawrence Lucas (1894 - 1967) was a English literary critic, essayist, poet, and Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge. ...

Edmund Wilson's influential piece for The New Republic, "The Poetry of Drought," which many critics have noted is unusually generous in arguing that the poem has an effective cohesive structure, emphasizes autobiographical and emotional elements: Edmund Wilson (May 8, 1895 – June 12, 1972) was an American writer, noted chiefly for his literary criticism. ... For other uses, see New Republic. ...

Not only is life sterile and futile, but men have tasted its sterility and futility a thousand times before. T. S. Eliot, walking the desert of London, feels profoundly that the desert has always been there. Like Tiresias, he has sat below the wall of Thebes; like Buddha, he has seen the world as an arid conflagration; like the Sibyl, he has known everything and known everything in vain.

Critic Harold Bloom has observed that the forerunners for The Waste Land are Alfred Lord Tennyson's Maud: A Monodrama and particularly Walt Whitman's elegy, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd. The major images of Eliot's poem are found in Whitman's ode: the lilacs that begin Eliot's poem, the "unreal city," the duplication of the self, the "dear brother," the "murmur of maternal lamentation," the image of faces peering at us, and the hermit thrush's song. Harold Bloom (born July 11, 1930) is an American professor and prominent literary and cultural critic. ... Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (August 6, 1809 - October 6, 1892) is generally regarded as one of the greatest English poets. ... Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wikisource. ...

Allusions in "The Burial of the Dead"

"The Burial of the Dead" serves as the title of Eliot's first section and is an allusion to The Book of Common Prayer, the prayer book of the Anglican Church. The Anglican Communion is a world-wide organisation of Anglican Churches. ...

The second section of "The Burial of the Dead" shifts from the voice of the powerless Marie and becomes the voice of the narrator. The first twelve lines of this section include three Old Testament allusions, and the narrator finds himself in a summer drought that has transformed the land into a desert. He is referred to as the "Son of man" which is a title used of Ezekiel, who was called upon by God to warn Israel to repent of their idolatry. God finally tells Ezekiel that Israel will not change; therefore, their altars will be desolate, images broken, and their cities will lay in waste. Also, in the book of Ecclesiastes, God warns the Jewish people that they should remember the days of their youth, for in their old age "fears shall be in the way" and "then shall the dust return to the earth as it was" (Authorized King James Version, Ezekiel 6:4, Ecclesiastes 12:5-7). Gish analyzes these allusions by writing, "Dead land, broken images, fear and dust, all take on the significance of human failure" (50). After such a depressing sequence of events, the narrator is offered shelter under a mysterious "red rock" which is an allusion to Isaiah's reference to the coming Messiah who will be "as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (Authorized King James Version, Isaiah 32:2).

The crowd marches in the "Unreal city" under the fog of a winter's dawn. There are so many people that the narrator exclaims, "I had not thought death had undone so many"(63). This verse is a direct allusion to Dante's Inferno and the people that he witnessed in the vestibule of Hell. Dante writes, "An interminable train of souls pressed on, so many that I wondered how death could have undone so many" (3.55-57). Dante, describing one in the crowd whom he recognizes, writes, "I saw the shade of the one who must have been the coward who made the great refusal" (3.59-60). The "great refusal" that Dante refers to is the lack of choosing either good or evil. They have died without ever living; furthermore, they may not enter either Hell or Heaven since they made no choice in life to be virtuous or to sin.

References in popular culture

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... William Lindsay Gresham. ... DC may stand for: // A. P. de Candolle in botanical nomenclature, a botanist who developed an extensive system of botanical classification Dendritic cell, a type of immune cell Doctor of Chiropractic, a health care profession DC Shoes, a clothing company that deals primarily with skateboarding gear. ... Vertigo logo Vertigo is an imprint of comic book and graphic novel publisher DC Comics. ... A statue of the sandman of Sandmännchen at Filmpark Babelsberg The Sandman is a character in popular Western folklore who brings good sleep and dreams by sprinkling magic sand onto the eyes of children. ... Neil Richard Gaiman (IPA: ) (born November 10, 1960[2]) is an English author of science fiction and fantasy short stories and novels, graphic novels, comics, and films. ... Morpheus may mean: Morpheus (mythology), the principal god of dreams in the Greek mythology Morpheus (The Matrix), a fictional character from the film The Matrix Morpheus (computer game), a computer game released in 1998. ... Martin Rowson (born 15 February 1959) is a British cartoonist. ... Trade paperback of Will Eisners A Contract with God (1978), often mistakenly cited as the first graphic novel. ... For other persons named Raymond Chandler, see Raymond Chandler (disambiguation). ... Genesis are an English rock band formed in 1967. ... The Cinema Show is an epic rock song by British progressive rock band Genesis off of their 1973 album, Selling England by the Pound. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... P. J. Proby (born James Marcus Smith, 6 November 1938, Houston, Texas, USA) is a singer, songwriter, and actor noted for his theatrical portrayals of Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison, plus interpretations of old standards in the vein of Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett. ... Graham Nelson (born 1968) is the creator of the Inform design system for creating interactive fiction (IF) games. ... Zork I is one of the first interactive fiction games, as well as being one of the first commercially sold. ... Curses is an interactive fiction computer game created by Graham Nelson in 1993. ... For other persons named Stephen King, see Stephen King (disambiguation). ... The Dark Tower can refer to one of several things: The Dark Tower (series) — a series of novels by Stephen King. ... The Waste Lands is book III of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. ... Simpsons redirects here. ... “Little Girl in the Big Ten” is the twentieth episode of The Simpsons’ thirteenth season. ... The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress is appointed by the United States Librarian of Congress and earns a stipend of $35,000 a year. ... Robert Pinsky (born October 20, 1940) is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator who served in the post of Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (known popularly as the Poet Laureate of the United States) from 1997 to 2000. ... Iain Menzies Banks (born on February 16, 1954 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland) writes mainstream novels as Iain Banks and science fiction as Iain M. Banks. ... Consider Phlebas is a science fiction novel by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks, first published in 1987. ... Look to Windward is a science fiction novel by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks, first published in 2000. ...

  • The movie Children of Men shares the poem's closing line, "Shantih Shantih Shantih" as well as many common images and themes.
  • Actress Fiona Shaw performed The Waste Land as a one-person show at the Liberty Theatre in New York to great acclaim.[26]
  • Tim Powers based his book Last Call largely on The Waste Land's archetypes, and used references and quotes from the book in the text.
  • William S. Burroughs quotes lines from the poem in several of his books, particularly the line: "Hurry up please, it's time."
  • Evelyn Waugh drew on the line "I will show you fear in a handful of dust." for the title of his critique of 1930's London society A Handful of Dust. Waugh also pays tribute to the poem in Brideshead Revisited in which Anthony Blanche perches himself on a balcony at Christ Church, Oxford whilst reading "passages from The Waste Land through a megaphone to the sweatered and muffled throng that was on its way to the river." He reads from Part III, "The Fire Sermon": "'I, Tiresias have foresuffered all,'" he sobbed to them from the Ventian arches -

Enacted on this same d-divan or b-bed,
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the l-l-lowest of the dead....
Children of Men is a 2006 dystopian science fiction film co-written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. ... Fiona Shaw as Aunt Petunia in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. ... This article is about the state. ... Tim Powers at the Israeli ICon 2005 SF&F Convention Timothy Thomas Powers (born February 29, 1952) is an American science fiction and fantasy author. ... Last call, an announcement made in a bar before serving drinks is stopped. ... Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: William S. Burroughs William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914) — August 2, 1997; pronounced ), more commonly known as William S. Burroughs, was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer. ... Evelyn Waugh, as photographed in 1940 by Carl Van Vechten Arthur Evelyn St. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... A Handful of Dust is a novel by Evelyn Waugh published in 1934. ... Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is a novel by the English writer Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1945. ... Anthony Blanche is a fictional character in the novel Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. ... and of the Christ Church College name Christ Church Latin name Ædes Christi Named after Jesus Christ Established 1546 Sister college Trinity College, Cambridge Dean The Very Revd Christopher Andrew Lewis JCR president Laura Ellis Undergraduates 426 GCR president Tim Benjamin Graduates 154 Location of Christ Church within central Oxford... The Waste Land (1922)[1] is a highly influential 434-line modernist poem by T. S. Eliot. ...

Robert R. McCammon is an American novelist. ... For other uses, see Swan Song. ... This article is about the author. ... This article is about the musical group. ... Warr Guitar custom Piezo/MIDI 14-string with uncrossed tuning. ... A Series of Unfortunate Events is a childrens book series of thirteen novels written by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by Brett Helquist. ... The Grim Grotto is the eleventh novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. ... Frankie Goes to Hollywood (FGTH) was a UK dance-pop band that was extremely popular in the mid 1980s. ... Liverpoolis Frankie Goes to Hollywoods second album, released in October of 1986(see 1986 in music). ... Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (sometimes written Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Ted Leo + Pharmacists, or TL/Rx) are an American rock band formed in 1999 in Washington, D.C. and currently recording for Touch and Go Records. ... The Tyranny of Distance is an album released in 2001 by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. ... Darkest Hour is an American metalcore band. ... Deliver Us is the fifth studio album by Darkest Hour. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Patricia Lee (Patti) Smith (born December 30, 1946) is an American musician, singer, and poet. ...


  1. ^ The title is sometimes mistakenly written as The Wasteland.
  2. ^ Due to a line counting error Eliot footnoted some of the last lines incorrectly (with the last line being given as 433). The error was never corrected and a line count of 433 is often cited.
  3. ^ Eliot, T. S. The Letters of T. S. Eliot, vol. 1. Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1988. p. 451
  4. ^ Aldington, Richard Life for Life's Sake: A Book of Reminiscences, Viking Press, 1941. p. 261
  5. ^ Eliot, T. S. The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound (1971) Edited and with an Introduction by Valerie Eliot, Harcourt Brace & Company (1971), ISBN 0-15-694870-2, page xxii
  6. ^ A short account of the Eliot/Quinn correspondence about The Waste Land and the history of the drafts appears on pp. xxii-xxix of the Facsimile book edited by Valerie Eliot (ISBN 0-15-694870-2).
  7. ^ Eliot, T. S. The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound (1971) Edited and with an Introduction by Valerie Eliot, Harcourt Brace & Company (1971), ISBN 0-15-694870-2, page xxix
  8. ^ Eliot, T. S. The Letters of T. S. Eliot, vol. 1. Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1988. pp. 498-9.
  9. ^ For an account of the poem's publication and the politics involved see Lawrenre Rainey's "The Price of Modernism: Publishing The Waste Land." The latest (and cited) version can be found in:
    Rainey, Lawrence (2005). Revisiting the Waste Land. New Haven: Yale University Press, 71-101. ISBN 0300107072. 
    Other versions can be found in:
    Bush, Ronald (1991). T. S. Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 91-111. ISBN 0521390745. 
    Eliot, T. (2001). The Waste Land. New York: W.W. Norton, 89-111. ISBN 0393974995. 
  10. ^ Book royality deal: Rainey, p. 77
  11. ^ Eliot a Dial correspondent: T.S. Eliot's "London Letters" to The Dial, viewed 28 February 2008
  12. ^ 1922 U.S. dollars per British pound exchange rate: Lawrence H. Officer, "Dollar-Pound Exchange Rate From 1791", MeasuringWorth.com, 2008.
  13. ^ Dial's initial offer: Rainey, p. 78.
  14. ^ The Dial magazine's announcement of award to Eliot, viewed 28 February 2008
  15. ^ Rainey, p. 86. Rainey adds that this increased the cost to the Dial by $315.
  16. ^ Gallup, Donald. T. S. Eliot: A Bibliography (A Revised and Extended Edition) Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1969, pp. 29-31, 208
  17. ^ Eliot's 1922 salary: Gordon, Lyndall (2000). T.S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 165. ISBN 0393320936. 
  18. ^ Rainey, p. 100
  19. ^ Unskilled labor worth $2,800 in 1922 would cost about $125,300 in 2006:
    Samuel H. Williamson, "Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1790 - 2006," MeasuringWorth.Com, 2007.
  20. ^ Eliot, T. S. The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound Edited and with an Introduction by Valerie Eliot, Harcourt Brace & Company (1971), ISBN 0-15-694870-2, page 4
  21. ^ Eliot, T. S. The Letters of T. S. Eliot, vol. 1. Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1988. pg. 567.
  22. ^ Pound, Ezra The Spirit of Romance New Directions (2005), ISBN 0-81-121646-2, page 33
  23. ^ Wilhelm, James J. Ezra Pound in London and Paris, 1908-1925 Pennsylvania State University Press (1990), ISBN 0-27-100682-X, page 309
  24. ^ "[W]hen it came time to print The Waste Land as a little book--for the poem on its first appearance in The Dial and in The Criterion had no notes whatever--it was discovered that the poem was inconveniently short, so I set to work to expand the notes, in order to provide a few more pages of printed matter, with the result that they became the remarkable exposition of bogus scholarship that is still on view to-day."
    Eliot, T.S. "The Frontiers of Criticism," On Poetry and Poets Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 1986, ISBN 0-571-08983-6, pp. 109-10
  25. ^ Charles Powell, writing as 'C.P.', in a review of The Waste Land first published in the Manchester Guardian, 31 October 1923, page 7, and reprinted in T. S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage (Volume 1, pages 194 – 195). Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1982
  26. ^ Ben Brantly, "Memory and Desire: Hearing Eliot's Passion," New York Times, 18 November 1996.
  27. ^ Waste Paper: Information and Much More from Answers.com

Richard Aldington in uniform during World War I Richard Aldington (July 8, 1892 – July 27, 1962), name at birth Edward Godfree Aldington, was an English writer and poet. ... Life For Lifes Sake: A Book of Reminiscences is a book of memoirs written by Richard Aldington and published by The Viking Press in 1941. ... Viking Press was founded on March 1, 1925, in New York City, by Harold K. Guinzburg and George S. Oppenheim. ... Lyndall Gordon is a South African academic, known for her literary biographies. ... The Guardian was also the name of a U.S. television series. ...


Primary sources

  • Eliot, T.S. (1963). Collected Poems, 1909-1962. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. ISBN 0151189781. 
  • The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound by T. S. Eliot, annotated and edited by Valerie Eliot. (Faber and Faber, 1971) ISBN 0-571-09635-2 (Paberback ISBN 0-571-11503-9)

Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 - January 4, 1965), was a major Modernist Anglo-American poet, dramatist, and literary critic. ...

Secondary sources

  • Ackroyd, Peter (1984). T. S. Eliot. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0241113490. 
  • Aldington, Richard (1941). Life for Life's Sake. The Viking Press. 
  • Bedient, Calvin (1986). He Do the Police in Different Voices. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226041417. 
  • Bloom, Harold (2003). Genius: a Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds. New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0446691291. 
  • Brooker, Jewel; Joseph Bentley (1990). Reading the Waste Land: Modernism and the Limits of Interpretation. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 0870238035. 
  • Drew, Elizabeth (1949). T. S. Eliot: The Design of His Poetry. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 
  • Gish, Nancy (1988). The Waste Land: A Student's Companion to the Poem. Boston: Twayne. ISBN 0805780238. 
  • Miller, James (1977). T. S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0271012374. 
  • Moody, A. David (1994). The Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521421276. 
  • North, Michael (ed.) (2000). The Waste Land (Norton Critical Editions). W.W. Norton. ISBN 0393974995. 
  • Reeves, Gareth (1994). T. S. Eliot's the Waste Land. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf. ISBN 0745007384. 
  • Southam, B.C. (1996). A Guide to the Selected Poems of T. S. Eliot. San Diego: Harcourt Brace. ISBN 0156002612. 

Peter Ackroyd (born October 5, 1949, London) is an English author. ... Richard Aldington in uniform during World War I Richard Aldington (July 8, 1892 – July 27, 1962), name at birth Edward Godfree Aldington, was an English writer and poet. ... Life For Lifes Sake: A Book of Reminiscences is a book of memoirs written by Richard Aldington and published by The Viking Press in 1941. ... Harold Bloom (born July 11, 1930) is an American professor and prominent literary and cultural critic. ... Michael North is a professor in the department of English at University of California, Los Angeles and the editor of the Norton Critical Edition of T.S. Eliots The Waste Land. ...

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ...

The poem

Project Gutenberg, abbreviated as PG, is a volunteer effort to digitize, archive and distribute cultural works. ...

Annotated versions



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