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The Waste Land

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  46,119 ratings  ·  1,240 reviews
The text of Eliot's 1922 masterpiece is accompanied by thorough explanatory annotations as well as by Eliot's own knotty notes, some of which require annotation themselves.

For ease of reading, this Norton Critical Edition presents The Waste Land as it first appeared in the American edition (Boni & Liveright), with Eliot's notes at the end. "Contexts" provides readers with
Paperback, Norton Critical Edition, 320 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 1922)
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Geoffrey It is a quotation from Dante, about the dead, but I can't remember it very accurately!
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Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'm trying to write a term paper on this poem (key word is "trying") and then I realized, hey, I should waste some time by writing a review of the poem on Goodreads! So here we are.

Here's my thing about T.S. Eliot: the man is ungodly brilliant and I love almost everything he's written. Does this mean I understand a single goddamn word of it? Of course not. But (and this is the great part) that doesn't matter. Eliot has been quoted as saying he's perfectly aware that no one has any idea what his
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot

The Waste Land is a long poem by T. S. Eliot, widely regarded as one of the most important poems of the 20th century and a central work of modernist poetry. Published in 1922, the 434-line poem first appeared in the United Kingdom in the October issue of Eliot's The Criterion and in the United States in the November issue of The Dial. It was published in book form in December 1922.

Among its famous phrases are "April is the cruellest month", "I will show you fear in a
You know, one of the greatest poems of the 20th century and that kind of thing. I must know a fair amount of it by heart.

Here's a story about "The Waste Land" that some people may find amusing. Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate in Cambridge, a friend of mine asked me for advice on how to impress female Eng Lit majors. Well, I said, you could do worse than use The Waste Land. Just memorise a few lines, and you'll probably be able to bluff successfully.

We did some rehearsals, and eventu
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-reads
You guys. YOU GUYS. So this is where all those lines come from? “April is the cruelest month”, “I will show you fear in a handful of dust” and “Consider Phlebas”?

Well, damn.

I was a science major in college, and took humanities courses for fun, but neither one of my two required English classes covered this poem. And so I missed out on deep analysis or even just not too deep explanation. Because I just read it four times in a row — and no, I don’t get it. I tried to read some annotations, and I j
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of poems as an English major back in the day.* Not many have stuck with me over the years, but The Waste Land is one of them: T.S. Eliot's lamentation about the spiritual drought in our day, the waste land of our Western society, lightened by a few fleeting glimpses of hope. It's fragmented, haunting, laden with symbolism and allusions, difficult, and utterly brilliant.

A diverse cast of characters take turns narrating the poem, or having their conversations overheard by the narrato
Bill Kerwin
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I would not presume to offer anything approaching a definitive judgment of this unique and influential poem, a poem which presents us—in early modernist fashion—with a provocative collage of voices and scenes, fragments which Eliot has collected from the “heap of broken images” that litter the desert of our culture, but which he presents in a way that grants them new terror and new poignancy, in a way that shows us “fear in a handful of dust” and hints--if only by its absence--at the possibility
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

The above mentioned lines mark one of the most profound onsets in the history of modernist literature; and perhaps with eruption of the highly dense, heart pounding effusion, a magical spell envelops the reader who would be kept shifting between time and space, embark and decay of civilization, prophecy and satire, philosophy and faith, life and death throughout the m
Alok Mishra
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some people are born to become the trendsetters and I will say that T. S. Eliot has opened the new gates to poetry after the publication of his masterpiece The Waste Land. Poetry was supposed to be about lyrics and music only. He created a different kind of disturbing music but that rang to the ears the alarming sound of perversion in humanity... The Waste Land will be remembered for its uniqueness and incompleteness and even then, for creating a new trend...
Jun 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nobels, poetry
I quite often cite the famous line "April is the cruellest month" completely out of context. And I happily refer to The Waste Land and Eliot's Nobel Prize when I do.

However, I can't say I ever understood the long trail of lines that it contains, even though I read it several times.

And most bizarre of all, I don't even agree with my favourite quote from it. FEBRUARY is the cruellest month: dark and cold and wet, and no end in sight!

Somehow, I don't think I missed the point of the poem though, by
Sean Barrs
This is the hardest poem I’ve ever read. Certainly, the difficulty experienced when reading something is not enough reason to leave a bad review. I’m currently reading Ulysses, a notoriously difficult book, but I am enjoying it nonetheless. This, however, is an entirely different creature.

Despite being an English student I do find poetry difficult. It may be because of my background. I transferred from sciences into English, so I had very little experience beyond a few poems I read at school.
Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
This Pisses Me Off and Makes Me Feel Like a Moron

I've had to read this twice in the course of my education, and I don't like it one bit, though I thoroughly appreciate its status and importance. Sort of like my attitude to atomic weapons. You wouldn't dismiss atomic weapons as 'crap', but you could legitimately say 'I appreciate their significance but I don't like them at all.'

I don't think there has ever been more literary masturbation about any other piece of writing than The Wasteland, an
86th book of 2020.

I am going to create what my mind was like when I read this, for the first time, late at night, with Eliot in my ear, eyes on the page. With images coming in and out of focus, and maybe memories, or new memories, new dreams, interfering. Eliot is italicised. I am not.

The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month. I was born in April, rather, born on the same day as Adolf Hitler: April 20th. It is true, I read, much of the night, and I dream of going south in the winter. N
Gabrielle Grosbety
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
“A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.”

“The Wasteland”, a poem at the deepening crux of modernism, is a whirlwind of broken, disparate pieces fitting to explore T.S. Eliot’s vision of a nihilistic world where gentle, purifying youth and spiritual inclinations/beliefs, which assuage us on the terrifying, fleeting journey of existence, float into thin air and lose their ability to free us as e
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I must confess. I have no idea what I just read. But it was the most beautiful thing.
Rakhi Dalal
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience.
aPriL does feral sometimes
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary, poetry
T. S. Eliot, who was a literary man who previously had faith in literary wisdom and social norms, I think discovered during World War I how useless lessons of wisdom and defined social mores were against processing the experience of massive wartime deaths and maiming. His personal tragedy of a very damaging marriage was also very difficult.

In 'The Waste Land', I think Eliot was ranting at literature, society, religion and culture for failing to stop the 'collapse' of civilization. Eliot also ra
B. P. Rinehart
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B. P. by: Ralph Ellison (i.e. "Shadow and Act")

[From 2012, I think]:
One of my early Goodreads reviews was of the anthology of Eliot The Waste Land and Other Writings where I reviewed the structure of the book more than I did any of the poems. I have looked back since writing it and am unsatisfied. This is one of my favorite poems, if not my favorite and it deserves better, so I will review it by itself.

Now this is a *cue sudden dramatic music* modernist work (which is to say, no "roses are read/violets are blue" here). It was released in TH
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land is a vast tentacular earthly creature. If its head is in Russia, one of its tentacle is in Honolulu while other is in Cambodia. Since this creature is so big, just two legs won't do. And that is not all. I am not sure what zoologists would say, but I am certain that this creature's tentacles are rigged. If you want to climb on it, you can't do so without taking help and mind you, this system of climbing is so faulty that you can't even take help of any random person. ...more
Feb 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: canon, poetry
i think this might make me an anti-intellectual, but i enjoyed this poem so much more when i read this outside of the classroom and infused it with my own tenuous understanding of what was going on in the poem. in class, explicating every single obscure reference effectively killed it. still such a powerful opening though. his poems have lines you want to taste in your mouth, and repeat over and over like magical intonations, or write down covertly in a secret book of quotes.
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-lit
My Ph. D advisor at U Minnesota in the late 60's was Saul Bellow's best friend there a few years earlier: great pic of Leonard Unger, a TS Eliot expert, cracking up Bellow posted in Rolling Stone, and elsewhere. (See Facebook, Alan P Bruno, Dec 7, 2012) Legend had it that Leonard and Saul composed, over lunch at the U Minn Faculty Club (top of the Student Union--whereas the grad students ate in the bottom cafeteria) a translation of the first four lines of the Wasteland--into Yiddish.

Also, my g
✨    jay   ✨
“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.”

I had to read this for a Modernism unit I'm taking, which made sense because I knew nothing about this poem going in except that it's supposed to be THE modernism poem (and also that Ezra Pound edited the shit out of it?) I read T.S Eliot's other famous poem The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock in highschool, which I liked because of it's beautiful writing and cleve
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-poetic
In college I read an author I loved and can't find him. He wrote in the 20's in prose, and they called him the street poet. He didn't rhyme but made you feel his words. I thought Eliot might be that one. I'm not sure if I read him then but the poem amazed me. The more I read and write the more I understand and the deeper the pleasure. I read Eliot a couple years ago and hated it. I read him again this week and read in awe. His words branch off into hundreds of novels your mind creates. His image ...more
Chris Shank
Aug 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
In summary: the poem is aptly titled if ‘waste’ is the colloquial ‘to poop on’, and ‘land’ means ‘my time’.

Okay, so this has been on my reading list for a while. It was supposed to be so good. Its legend preceded it, and it had a lot to live up to, judging from many literature buffs . Some have referred to this poem as an embodiment of the zeitgeist of the 20th century. Besides being a poet and writer, T.S. Eliot was a literary critic whom any author of his time would have begged on all fours to
Emily  O
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poetry lovers, English majors
Recommended to Emily by: ENG 252 (American Lit Post-1800s)
What can one say about The Waste Land that hasn't already been said? It's disjointed, difficult, long, and brilliant. Parts of it are confusing and grotesque (I'm looking at you, carbuncular young man) while other parts are strikingly painfully beautiful. It is laden with symbolism and references to everything under the sun. The only interpretation people can agree on is that something is terribly broken, though no-one can seem to agree on exactly what that thing is. If you like poetry, and are ...more
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

"The Waste land" is unquestionably one of the hardest poems any reader can get into. This poem is so full of intertextual references that will make any reader question the real meaning of those verses. The text perceives itself as a beast with so many analogies and references.
Brittney Andrews (beabookworm)
T.S. Eliot has written some of the most thought-provoking poems I've ever read. He is brilliant, just brilliant.

You will definitely love Eliot's poetry style if you enjoy the works of Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe.

Some of my favourites:

I. The Burial of the Dead.

April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.


And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your
Laurel Hicks
Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind -

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true
L.A. Starks
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This highly literary poem is recommended only for those who want to delve into its heavily allegorical word-by-word symbolism and who are willing to go outside the text to understand it.

While I don't recommend T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland for mystery, suspense, and thriller readers who are looking for straightforward plot and characters, those who like the setting of the early 1900s and the sheer rhythm of the lines will find this classic stays with them.

For a laymen's explanation:
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I wish to be an old lady of sixty,
surrounded by giant cats
rocking a chair swiftly,
reading and truly comprehending Eliot's 'Waste Land'.
Jason Gignac
May 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Original Review

To be perfectly honest, I really expected not to like this poem. I was really kind of expecting to hate it, in fact. I've read a little bit of Ezra Pound, a jillion years ago, didn't like it, and I guess just figured this would be the same. Here's the thing - I didn't hate it. And I don't know why. It was obtuse, it made no sense at times, it deliberately obscured itself, it had all the things I hate in modern poetry.

Except for one little, tiny thing: It wasn't talking to itself,
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Poesía en castellano: Thomas Stearns Eliot 1 2 Sep 24, 2018 12:20PM  
Poesies’ modernization Art exemplar and sham champion On of introspection illusion.. 1 3 Feb 24, 2018 11:52PM  
MY Blog 1 7 Dec 23, 2016 02:15PM  
The Waste Land as Grail Quest? 5 140 Nov 25, 2014 08:56PM  
Brain Pain: * Questions, Resources and General Banter - The Waste Land 153 102 Jul 23, 2013 08:57PM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week Five - The Waste Land - Section IV & V 45 56 Jul 17, 2013 11:25PM  

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Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, dramatist and literary critic. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry." He wrote the poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets; the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party; and the essay Tradition and the Individ ...more

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“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.”
“A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
More quotes…