T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” Essay Sample

9 September 2017

Eliot imparts to us the Grail quest’s influence on “The Waste Land” in the notes:

“Not merely the rubric. but the program and a good trade of the incidental symbolism of the verse form were suggested by Miss Jessie L. Weston’s book on the Grail fable: From Ritual to Romance ( Macmillan ) . Indeed. so profoundly am I indebted. Miss Weston’s book will clarify the troubles of the verse form much better than my notes can make ; and I recommend it ( apart from the great involvement of the book itself ) to any who think such elucidation of the verse form worth the problem. ”

Indeed. much of the verse form reflects the narrative of the Grail quest itself ; when confronted with a comfortable land turned into waste as a consequence of the wounding or sick wellness of the Fisher King who presides over the land. a hero begins a pursuit which finally must reconstruct the male monarch to wellness in order to “free the waters” ( R2R ) and reconstruct the land itself.

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As the hero must mend this desolate barren which was one time a happy and lively topographic point. so excessively are traces of happier times distressingly remembered among devastation and desperation throughout “The Waste Land. ” seen even in the gap of the verse form:

“April is the barbarous month. genteelness
Lilacs out of the dead land. blending
Memory with desire. stirring
Dull roots with spring rain. ”


Eliot instantly declares April–a month by and large associated with sorely missed heat. regeneration. life. and beauty–the barbarous month. stirring life in an otherwise dead land and thereby raising painful memories of a happier and more comfortable clip which one can non assist but lose and want deeply when confronted with a hint of it. Eliot goes on to claim that “Winter kept us warm. covering/Earth in unretentive snow. ” proposing that at least when the land was absolutely dead it left its dwellers numb to the hurting of what they’d lost.

Still other happy memories haunt the land that has now turned into waste ; Eliot writes of a surprising summer lavishing the dwellers of the land in rain–an image itself which implies life. prosperity. and regeneration–causing people to halt in the colonnade. imbibe java. and speak for an hr. Still Eliot has the talker recount pleasant childhood memories of “staying at the archduke’s” and traveling sleighing. declaring. “In the mountains. there you feel free. ” These warm and affectionate contemplations on unworried young person base in contrast to the speaker’s current. deadened life. which involves reading “much of the night” and traveling “south in the winter. ” and mirror the land in the Grail legend’s happy. comfortable society turning into a barren. particularly when sing the versions of the narrative which involve the Fisher King enduring from extreme. blowing old age which must be restored to youth if the land is to be healed.

Other traces of a healthy. happy past appear still in “The Waste Land. ” doing its current province of decease and devastation even darker in comparing. In The Fire Sermon. after detecting that “the river’s collapsible shelter is broken” and “the nymphs are departed. ” the talker requests that the river Thames “run softly” until his vocal is ended. He comments that

“The River bears no empty bottles. sandwich documents.
Silk hankies. composition board boxes. coffin nail terminals
Or other testimony of summer darks. ”

While the talker expects to see marks of life and hints of happy. carefree. enjoyable summer darks shared by people at the riverbank. the talker sees nil at all apart from the river itself and is cognizant of merely the air current traversing “the brown land. unheard. ” What he finds alternatively is an empty. dead scene. made eerier by the lively things that used to take topographic point at that place. and made eerier and more desolate still by being marked with “the rattling of bones” and a rat dragging “its slimy belly on the bank. ” It is clear that this topographic point has non ever been this manner ; instead. it was one time a happy scene that has since sickened and turned to waste.

Not merely have lively topographic points been turned into barrens. but the people and their relationships. which might one time hold been pleasant and promising. have turned barren every bit good. Such relationships between work forces and adult females in “The Waste Land. ” particularly 1s that involve sexual disfunction. mirror the Grail fable in which the Fisher King’s lesion consequences in sexual powerlessness and the ultimate cachexia of the land. In a subdivision of The Burial of the Dead. the talker remembers a adult female he calls “the hyacinth girl” walking with him from the Hyacinth garden. her hair moisture and her weaponries full of flowers. These images doubtless harken back to a clip when flowers. H2O. and life were a portion of a happy and lively society ; [ so. even the talker remembers himself as dumbfounded and unable to talk at the clip. feeling as though by looking at this miss he was “looking into the bosom of visible radiation. ” ]

Such memories. declarative mood of both actual life and the animation of people and their connexions to one another. have now given manner to a desert waste. a land missing in H2O ( What the Thunder Said ) and thereby missing in life and the felicity associated with life and prosperity. and a land missing in meaningful and promising connexions between people. Whereas the hyacinth miss was enchanting. go forthing the talker in The Burial of the Dead dumb in a manner that floored him and made him experience as though he were “looking into the bosom of visible radiation. ” the talker in A Game of Chess finds himself interchanging few words with his female opposite number non because he is amazed by her but because he is weary of her and her ailments. The adult female tries urgently to discourse with him and inspire concern in him. claiming that her “nerves are bad to-night” and bespeaking that he remain with her. When she additions no response. she grapples between biding him and demanding that he answer to her:

“Speak to me. Why do you ne’er speak. Speak.
“What are you believing of? What believing? What?
“I ne’er know what you are believing. Think. ”

Still she continues. inquiring him to explicate noises she is hearing to which he frustratedly answers that the noises are “The air current under the door” and so “Nothing once more nil. ” When she asks him urgently what she shall make. what they shall make tomorrow. and. eventually. what they shall of all time make. he replies at last with a humdrum list of activities. Their being and relationship can be considered a barren itself of kinds as they are steeped in humdrum and sadness. a clearly hard-pressed married woman seeking urgently to pass on and portion her life with with a hubby whom has no forbearance or desire to pass on with her.

Another waste and peculiarly sexually dysfunctional relationship is described in A Game of Chess between a adult female named Lil and her hubby Albert. Amid calls of a barman. a friend of Lil chides her for non holding used the money Albert gave her “to acquire yourself some dentitions. ” She insists that he won’t “bear to look at her. ” that “he wants a good clip. /And if you don’t give it him. there’s others will. ” She goes on to name Lil “antique” and insists that if Albert does travel off with other adult females. “it won’t be for deficiency of stating. ” Lil indignantly replies that her province has been brought on by medicine she took to “bring it off. ” proposing that she induced an abortion. to which her friend answers. “What you get married for if you don’t want kids? ” The barrenness of the relationship between Lil and Albert and its sexual disfunction is evident ; Lil has become so unwanted to Albert that he might be unfaithful to her upon his return from the ground forces. Furthermore. their sexual relationship and ability to partake in the regeneration of life themselves has been stunted if non wholly destroyed both by Lil about deceasing “of immature George” and by her self-medicated abortion of a subsequent gestation. They represent a barren of a relationship. waste. lifeless. unhappy. unable ( or unwilling ) to renew and make new life. and thereby reminiscent of the Fisher King whose wounding and sexual powerlessness or inability to renew has caused the land itself to neglect to give life. turning alternatively to waste.

Still other illustrations of waste and sexually dysfunctional relationships harvest up in Eliot’s verse form. In The Fire Sermon. Tiresias. an “old adult male with wrinkly female chests. ” connoting that he has lived life as both a adult female and a adult male. perceives a scene in which a “small house agent’s clerk” engages a adult female “in caresses/Which still are unreproved. if unsought. ” The adult female is described as seting up “no defence” or “response” to his “exploring custodies. ” indifferent to his progresss. When he eventually coatings and foliages. she merely briefly thinks on the affair. a “half-formed thought” which claims “ ‘Well now that’s done. and I’m glad it’s over. ’ ” Again. Eliot describes a waste and deadened relationship. strictly sexual in nature but non needfully reciprocally so. and therefore lifeless and non regenerative. The woman’s indifference to the man’s brief sexual progresss is itself reminiscent of a barren ; her deficiency of response or attention to what should be a lively and regenerative act suggests a kind of cold numbness like “forgetful snow. ”

Apart from the analogues between the waste land of the Grail fable and the waste land of Eliot’s heroic poem verse form. the influence of From Ritual to Woo on “The Waste Land” runs deeper. Weston’s book efforts to turn out the theory that the Grail pursuit is neither strictly folkloric or Christian in nature. but instead cobbled together from a figure of different beginnings. the most compelling of which are the nature cults with their ancient flora rites. rites which portion undeniable similarities with facets of the Grail quest. Merely as the Grail fable was informed by myriad inside informations of past civilizations finally melding to make this celebrated narrative. so excessively was Eliot’s heroic poem verse form non strictly his ain. but instead informed by past and outstanding plants of literature. Fragments of these literary plants appear throughout “The Waste Land. ” working both as a parallel to From Ritual to Romance and as a manner to adhere Eliot’s heroic poem verse form into the timeline of celebrated literary civilization. paying court to past plants of art while at the same time set uping himself as a member of that timeline. an thought which Eliot demonstrates his grasp for in his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” :

“The historical sense compels a adult male to compose non simply with his ain coevals in his castanetss. but with a feeling that the whole of the literature… . of his ain state has a coincident being and composes a coincident order. This historical sense. which is a sense of the timeless every bit good as of the temporal… . is what makes a writer traditional. And it is at the same clip what makes a author most acutely witting of his topographic point in clip. ”

Present in the Grail pursuit are the influence of antediluvian texts and rites dating back to even the Rig-Veda texts in which anthem are strikingly similar to the ‘Freeing of the Waters. ’ or the Restoration of rivers and therefore the healing of the land. which takes topographic point in the Grail fable. Indeed. the wounding of the Fisher King ensuing in the cachexia of the land can be traced back to an ancient flora rite. that of the rite of Adonis which involves cosmopolitan mourning for the god’s hurt or decease which would ensue in the suspension “of the generative energy of the God upon whose virile activity vegetable life straight. and human life indirectly. depended” ( Weston Tammuz and Adonis ) and subsequently the rejoicing of his Resurrection. Such of import fragments of antediluvian. past civilizations feed into and act upon the Grail fable piece at the same clip allowing it stand entirely as a important and historical work–it is exactly this balance of tradition and the single endowment that Eliot thought indispensable for an writer to hold and is arguably what he attempted to accomplish in composing his heroic poem verse form. make fulling it with allusions and fragmental plants while still utilizing his ain voice to state “the narrative of the folk. ”

In “Tradition and the Individual Talent. ” Eliot makes still clearer a belief that the best parts of a work. doing it single and worthy of the literary timeline. might be that which has been profoundly influenced by other plants before it. connoting that a piece ( or an writer ) will profit and maturate most by feeding off of other groundbreaking work:

“One of the facts that might come to illume in this procedure is our inclination to take a firm stand. when we praise a poet. upon those facets of his work in which he least resembles anyone else… . we pretend to happen what is single. what is the curious kernel of the adult male. We dwell with satisfaction upon the poet’s difference from his predecessors. particularly his immediate predecessors… . Whereas if we approach a poet without this bias we shall frequently happen that non merely the best. but the most single parts of his work may be those in which the dead poets. his ascendants. assert their immortality most smartly. ”

It can be said that Eliot surely made it one of his purposes to accomplish this sort of traditional individualism non merely by analyzing “The Waste Land” in its concluding signifier. but besides by analyzing parts of “The Waste Land” that were finally rejected. Eliot had originally intended to open his heroic poem poem non with the celebrated “April is the cruelest month” line. but instead with an extra subdivision entitled “He Do the Police in Different Voices. ” a line taken straight from a Charles Dickens novel. This subdivision was written in an incredibly colloquial manner that stood apart from Eliot’s more precise and rational poetry. its linguistic communication less heightened and more accessible. connoting its talker as an mundane. unworldly adult male merely stating a narrative. get downing with “First we had a twosome of antennas down at Tom’s place/There was old Tom. boiled to the eyes. blind. ” The subdivision feels as though it’s in action. invariably traveling from event to event. heightening the narrative feel with lines like “The following thing we were out in the street. Oh was it cold! ” and “Then we thought we’d breeze along and take a walk. /Then we lost Steve” and finally stoping with “So I got out to see the dawn. and walked place. ” This stream-of-consciousness narrative seems different from the remainder of Eliot’s work because it was non wholly single but instead straight influenced by Joyce’s Ulysses. a book which Eliot held to be a extremely important and groundbreaking work of literature. a point he emphasizes in his essay “Ulysses” :

“I hold [ Ulysses ] to be the most of import look which the present age has found ; it is a book to which we are all indebted. and from which none of us can escape… . it has given me all the surprise. delectation. and panic that I can necessitate. and I will go forth it at that. ”

Eliot even goes on to commend the book’s “parallel usage of the Odyssey” as holding “great importance” like that of a “scientific find. ” once more remembering his stance on the great importance of the balance of tradition and single endowment. declaring. “In utilizing the myth. in pull stringsing a uninterrupted analogue between modernity and antiquity. Mr. Joyce is prosecuting a method which others must prosecute after him. ” Eliot’s ain effort to copy Joyce’s Ulysses. so. was about more than merely the style–he was besides trying to copy Joyce’s usage of other plants to make his ain. While this subdivision finally did non look in the finished version of “The Waste Land. ” that Eliot wrote it is still important. particularly when sing the rubric ; “He Do the Police in Different Voices” was something he was seeking to do–emulate the voices of others in his ain work.

While some of Eliot’s efforts at court to works that came before his ain were cast aside. there were surely a immense sum of other allusions and direct quotation marks that did do it into the verse form. solidifying this balance between other voices and Eliot’s ain voice. Indeed. even the epigraph which opens “The Waste Land” is taken straight from a Latin text called Satyricon written in the Middle Ages [ source/expansion on this ] .

[ material about verse form being riddled with fragments/quotes etc. ]
Another fragment of past civilization. this one based on Greek mythology ( and hence reminiscent of the congratulations Eliot heaped on Joyce for utilizing the myth of the Odyssey in Ulysses ) . appears in II. A Game of Chess. After depicting at length the scene in which this subdivision takes topographic point. Eliot mentions a mantle which shows

“The alteration of Philomel. by the brutal male monarch
So impolitely forced ; yet there the Luscinia megarhynchos
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
And still she cried. and still the word pursues.
‘Jug Jug’ to soil ears. ”



This transition is straight based on the Grecian myth in which a adult female named Philomel is raped by the male monarch Tereus in the forests. who later cuts out her lingua so that she will be unable to state of his misbehavior. Because of the horrors she suffers. she is turned into a nightingale. everlastingly singing Tereus’s name in plaintive and accusative plaint [ citation ] . The nightingale remains symbolic to this twenty-four hours of mourning and darkness. and her continued visual aspect throughout “The Waste Land” in the signifier of a discorporate voice naming “Jug jug jug jug jug” and “Tereu” makes the presence of tradition and myth strong in Eliot’s work while adding to the hopeless waste land that the verse form portrays.

In seeing how extremely Eliot regarded the emulation and blending of other culturally of import plants. it could be argued that portion of his regard for From Ritual to Romance and determination to allow it act upon his ain heroic poem verse form stemmed from its averment that the Grail fable itself. a historically and culturally of import and dateless literary work. was informed by fragments of of import civilization. Partss of it that might hold been considered single by some ( the wounding of the Fisher King ensuing in the cachexia of the land. the ways in which the land was healed. etc. ) were. in fact. straight informed by culturally important history that came before it. Its similarities to Ulysses. a book Eliot extremely revered. are important in the sense that it excessively is a dateless work non created out of nil but alternatively founded on history and past civilization. As Eliot greatly respected this construct of balance. it would do sense that among the other grounds that drew him to From Ritual to Romance. raising in him the desire to parallel his ain heroic poem verse form to that of the quest. the thought of the Grail fable as perpetuating this balance and solidifying its topographic point in the timeline would besides pull him and do his desire to happen that balance himself that much greater.

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