Introduction by Mary Karr
First published in 1922, “The Waste Land,” T. S. Eliot’s masterpiece, is not only one of the key works of modernism but also one of the greatest poetic achievements of the twentieth century. A richly allusive pilgrimage of spiritual and psychological torment and redemption, Eliot’s poem exerted a revolutionary influence on his contemporaries, summoning forth a potent new poetic language. As Kenneth Rexroth wrote, Eliot “articulated the mind of an epoch in words that seemed its most natural expression.” As commanding as his verse, Eliot’s criticism also transformed twentieth-century letters, and this Modern Library edition includes a selection of Eliot’s most important essays.
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Read an Excerpt
Portrait of a Lady
Thou hast committed
Fornication: but that was in another country,
And besides, the wench is dead.
The Jew of Malta.
Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon
You have the scene arrange itself as it will seem to do
With I have saved this afternoon for you;
And four wax candles in the darkened room,
Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead,
An atmosphere of Juliet’s tomb
Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid.
We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole
Transmit the Preludes, through his hair and fingertips.
So intimate, this Chopin, that I think his soul
Should be resurrected only among friends
Some two or three, who will not touch the bloom
That is rubbed and questioned in the concert room.
And so the conversation slips
Among velleities and carefully caught regrets
Through attenuated tones of violins
Mingled with remote cornets
You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends,
And how, how rare and strange it is, to find
In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends,
[For indeed I do not love it . . . you knew? you are not blind!
How keen you are!]
To find a friend who has these qualities,
Who has, and gives
Those qualities upon which friendship lives.
How much it means that I say this to you
Without these friendships life, what cauchemar!
Among the windings of the violins
And the ariettes
Of cracked cornets
Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins
Absurdly hammering a prelude of its own,
That is at least one definite false note.
Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance,
Admire the monuments,
Discuss the late events,
Correct our watches by the public clocks.
Then sit for half an hour and drink our bocks.
Table of Contents
|How to Read "The Waste Land" So It Alters Your Soul Rather Than Just Addling Your Head||ix|
|The Waste Land and Other Poems|
|Prufrock and Other Observations (1917)||3|
|The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock||3|
|Portrait of a Lady||8|
|Rhapsody on a Windy Night||14|
|Morning at the Window||16|
|The Boston Evening Transcript||16|
|La Figlia Che Piange||20|
|Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar||25|
|A Cooking Egg||28|
|Melange Adultere de Tout||30|
|Lune de Miel||30|
|Dans Le Restaurant||32|
|Whispers of Immortality||33|
|Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service||35|
|Sweeney Among the Nightingales||36|
|The Waste Land||38|
|The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism|
|The Perfect Critic||64|
|Tradition and the Individual Talent||99|
|The Possibility of a Poetic Drama||109|
|Euripides and Professor Murray||117|
|"Rhetoric" and Poetic Drama||123|
|Some Notes on the Blank Verse of Christopher Marlowe||129|
|Hamlet and His Problems||137|
|Swinburne as Poet||174|
|The Metaphysical Poets||224|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
T.S. Eliot is truly a master of poetry. His style of dark, depressing prose, gorgeous description, veiled mysterious hidden meaning, and sharply witty satire is amazing.While some of my favorite poets have earned my respect from pretty writing, T.S. Eliot twists blackness, madness, and desperation into shining beacons of lyrical beauty.I also love how Eliot so frequently references other literary characters, especially Shakespeare. He also shows echoes of Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Marlowe, Emerson, the Bible, Arthurian Legend, Classical Greek, Shelley, Middleton, even Chopin, amongst others. These reflected acknowledgments to his heroes influence his writing deeply, and make it seem far more literary and relevant.His satire is clear and intelligent. I especially admired his short poem "The Hippopotamus," in which he compared the animal to the Roman Catholic Church.I cannot say that I had a favorite poem, as they were all brilliant. This is a perfect collection of Eliot's work.One of my favorite poets and thinkers of all time.
Carr's introduction addresses how to read The Waste Land, which is insightful and helpful for the reader who has not experienced the poem before. However, if one is interested in Eliot's landmark poem, an edition with more gloss would probably be worthwhile -- this one has none, other than the poet's own notes, which are nearly as enigmatic as the poem itself. There are other Eliot poems and essays in this edition, but those, too, can be found elsewhere.
This excellent compilation combines T. S. Eliot's poetry and his essays. The Waste Land, one of the greatest poems of all time is included, with an introduction that helps the reader understand this poem or see its meaning from a different perspective. Without a doubt, Eliot is one of the greatest Modernist poets, enriched by his both American and British influences. This book shows Eliot's genius as a poet and an essayist.