Phillip's Reviews > The Waste Land

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
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Jul 06, 12

bookshelves: poetry
Read from July 04 to 05, 2012

First, my disclaimer is that I didn't actually read the poem in this edition, I read it in a Norton Anthology of English Literature (shorter 6th edition).

In the past I've never really appreciated "The Wasteland" because, while I grapsed the notion of "fragments shored against my ruin," I had trouble moving beyond the densely allusive nature of the poem. It is a poem whose meaning is not obviously evident; the poem does not tell a clear story. However, on this reading I was much more appreciative of how the poem reflects the jumbled picture of modern culture--again, a set of fragments shored against ruin. Among the many allusions in the poem are Shakespeare's The Tempest, Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, the Buddha's Fire Sermon, the Upanishads, the legend of the Fisher King, and echoes of Ezra Pound's contemporary poetry. It is upon a similar basis that modern culture is formed--a set of divergent strands drawn together into a massive cultural tapestry--and the interwoven and allusive nature of the poem is meant to parallel that kind of cultural weaving.
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