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The Waste Land and Other Poems

The Waste Land and Other Poems

by T. S. Eliot
The Waste Land and Other Poems

The Waste Land and Other Poems

by T. S. Eliot


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T.S. Eliot's most famous work, The Waste Land, has been called one of the twentieth century's most important poems. Among his most famous lines are "April is the cruellest month" and "I will show you fear in a handful of dust." The poem falls may be placed alongside other prominent modernist poetry, and is especially remarkable for its abrupt change of speaker, place, and time. The Waste Land is pregnant with the futility and despair that pervaded the literary elite of the post-World War I era.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781849023306
Publisher: Benediction Books
Publication date: 09/01/2011
Pages: 76
Sales rank: 343,595
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888–1965) was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and spent many of his adult years in England. He worked for a bank while writing poetry, teaching, and reviewing, and was soon recognized as a force in the British literary world. The Waste Land confirmed his reputation as an innovative poet.

Frank Kermode (1919–2010) was one of the twentieth century's greatest critics. He wrote and edited many works, among them The Sense of Ending and Shakespeare’s Language.

Read an Excerpt

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credessi che mia risposta fosse
a persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
questa fiamma staria senza più scosse.
Ma perciocchè che giammai di questo fondo
non tornò vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,

The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,

Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,

And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street

Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—

(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—

(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)

 Is it perfume from a dress

That makes me so digress?

Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin?

* * * *

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets

And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .

I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

* * * *

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!

Smoothed by long fingers,

Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat,

and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it towards some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

If one, settling a pillow by her head,

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.

That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,

After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,

After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—

And this, and so much more?—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:

Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow by her head,

Should say, “That is not what I meant at all;

“That is not it, at all.”

* * * *

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

A Note on the Texts xiii

Introduction xvii

Poetry 1

Prufrock and Other Observations 3

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock 5

Portrait of a Lady 9

Preludes 13

Rhapsody on a Windy Night 15

Morning at the Window 17

The Boston Evening Transcript 18

Aunt Helen 19

Cousin Nancy 20

Mr. Apollinax 21

Hysteria 22

Conversation Galante 23

La Figlia Che Piange 24

From Poems (1920) 25

Gerontion 25

Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar 28

Sweeney Erect 30

A Cooking Egg 32

The Hippopotamus 34

Whispers of Immortality 36

Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service 38

Sweeney Among the Nightingales 40

The Waste Land 43

I The Burial of the Dead 45

II A Game of Chess 48

III The Fire Sermon 51

IV Death by Water 56

V What the Thunder Said 56

Eliot's Notes to The Waste Land 61

Contexts 67

Sources of the Waste Land 69

The King of the Wood Sir James G. Frazer 69

The Influence of the Sexes on Vegetation 70

The Killing of the Divine King 72

[Adonis and Christ] 73

[The Grail Legend] Jessie L. Weston 75

[The Grail Quest] 76

[The Tarot Pack] 77

The Fisher King 78

[The Perilous Chapel] 79

[Conclusion] 79

[Madame Sosostris] Aldous Huxley 81

To the Reader Charles Baudelaire 83

The Seven Old Men 84

[Cornelia's Dirge from The White Devil] John Webster 86

[The Blinding of Tiresias] Ovid 86

[The Story of Tereus and Philomela] 87

That Shakespearian Rag Gene Buck Herman Ruby 92

The Fire-Sermon Gotama Buddha 96

From Prothalamion Edmund Spenser 97

[Olivia's Song from The Vicar of Wakefield] Oliver Goldsmith 98

[Elizabeth and Leicester] James Anthony Froude 99

From Confessions St. Augustine 99

From The King James Bible • [The Road to Emmaus] 100

[The Extra Man] Sir Ernest Shackleton 101

[The Downfall of Europe] Hermann Hesse 102

From Brihadaranyaka Upanishad • The Three Great Disciplines 104

From Pervigilium Veneris 105

From The Spanish Tragedie Thomas Kyd 106

Composition and Publication of the Waste Land 109

[The Composition of The Waste Land] Lyndall Gordon 109

[Publishing The Waste Land] Lawrence Rainey 117

Eliot on the Waste Land 135

[The Disillusionment of a Generation] 135

[A Piece of Rhythmical Grumbling] 135

[On the Waste Land Notes] 136

[Allusions to Dante] 136

Eliot: Essays and London Letters 139

Reflections on Vers Libre 139

From Reflections on Contemporary Poetry 145

From Tradition and the Individual Talent 147

Hamlet and His Problems 154

From The Metaphysical Poets 158

Ulysses, Order, and Myth 165

The True Church and the Nineteen Churches 168

[The Rite of Spring and The Golden Bough] 169

Criticism 171

Reviews and First Reactions 173

From The New Poetry Arthur Waugh 173

[Review of Prufock and Other Observations] Ezra Pound 176

Prufrock and Other Observations: A Criticism May Sinclair 180

Is This Poetry? Virginia Woolf 186

[Eliot Chants The Waste Land] 188

Times Literary Supplement • [Mr. Eliot's Poem] 189

The Poetry of Drouth Edmund Wilson 189

Mr. Eliot's Slug-Horn Elinor Wylie 195

An Anatomy of Melancholy Conrad Aiken 198

[The Dilemma of The Waste Land] Malcolm Cowley 203

[The Waste Land and Jazz] Ralph Ellison 206

Twentieth-Century Criticism 207

["Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar"] Laura Riding Robert Graves 207

Prufrock of St. Louis Hush Kenner 212

From The Poetry of T. S. Eliot I. A. Richards 218

[The Significance of the Modern Waste Land] F. R. Leavis 221

The Waste Land: An Analysis Cleanth Brooks, Jr. 233

T. S. Eliot as the International Hero Delmore Schwartz 259

A Sphinx without a Secret Maud Ellmann 265

[Eliot's Waste Paper] Tim Armstrong 283

Reconsiderations and New Readings 291

[Inventing Prufrock] Flelen Vendler 291

[Rereading Eliot's "Gerontion"] Marjorie Perloff 297

From T. S. Eliot and Cinema David Trotter 315

[The Gramophone in The Waste Land] Juan A. Suarez 322

[Violence in The Waste Land] Sarah Cole 329

T. S. Eliot: A Chronology 337

Selected Bibliography 341


A wonderful collection of poems. Some are comical and playful, others satirical and serious, each exemplifying Eliot's titanic influence on modernist literature.

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