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The Waste Land

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The Waste Land, first published in 1922, is often regarded as T.S. Eliot's masterpiece, as well as one of the most important poems of the 20th century and a central work of modernist poetry.

The work, divided in 5 sections, juxtaposes the legend of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King, with a snapshot of early twentieth-century British society. In contemporary times, it is often read published within The Waste Land and Other Poems and has come to be Eliot's most popular poem.

T.S. Elliot was a poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary critic and editor. Born in 1888 in St. Louis (MO, USA), he is considered one of the 20th century's major poets, and a central figure in English-language Modernist poetry."In ten years' time," wrote Edmund Wilson in Axel's Castle (1931), "Elliot has left upon English poetry a mark more unmistakable than that of any other poet writing in English." In 1948, Eliot was awarded the Nobel Price "for his work as a trail-blazing pioneer of modern poetry."

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1922

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About the author

T.S. Eliot

832 books4,810 followers
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 Individual Talent. Eliot was born an American, moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at the age of 25), and became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.S._Eliot

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Profile Image for Madeline.
775 reviews47k followers
April 25, 2009
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 poems are about, and he's perfectly cool with that. Understanding Eliot's poems is not the point; the point is to recognize that he writes with incredible skill and to just lose yourself in the words. My Lit book, How to Read a Poem, said it best:
"Eliot is often see as an intellectually difficult, fearfully elitist writer, and so in some ways he was. But he was also the kind of poet who put little store by erudite allusions, and professed himself quite content to have his poetry read by those who had little idea what it meant. It was form - the material stuff of language itself, its archaic resonances and tentacular roots - which mattered most to him. In fact, he once claimed to have enjoyed reading Dante in the original even before he could understand Italian...In some ways a semi-literate would have been Eliot's ideal reader. He was more of a primitivist than a sophisticate. He was interested in what a poem did, not what it said - in the resonances of the signifier, the lures of its music, the hauntings of its grains and textures, the subterranean workings of what one can only call the poem's unconscious."

Translation: in Eliot's eyes, we are all uncultured idiots, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

So, for those of you struggling to get through the wordy, allusion-tastic, multiple-language maze that is The Waste Land, I can only tell you this: Relax and just enjoy the ride. You have nothing to fear. T.S. Eliot loves you.

Read for: Perspectives on Literature
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
November 18, 2021
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 handful of dust", and the mantra in the Sanskrit language "Shantih shantih shantih".

The poem's structure is divided into five sections.

The first section, "The Burial of the Dead," introduces the diverse themes of disillusionment and despair.

The second, "A Game of Chess," employs vignettes of several characters—alternating narrations—that address those themes experientially. "The Fire Sermon,"

The third section, offers a philosophical meditation in relation to the imagery of death and views of self-denial in juxtaposition influenced by Augustine of Hippo and eastern religions.

After a fourth section, "Death by Water," which includes a brief lyrical petition.

The culminating fifth section, "What the Thunder Said," concludes with an image of judgment.

For once I myself saw with my own eyes the Sibyl of Cumae hanging in a cage, and when the boys said, "Sibyl, what do you want?" she replied "I want to die."

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «سرزمین ویران (حسین رازى، حمید عنایت و چنگیز مشیرى)»؛ «سرزمین هرز (بهمن شعله ور، مهدى وهابى)»؛ «دشت سترون و اشعار دیگر (پرویز لشکری)»؛ «دشت سترون (شهریار شهیدی)»؛ «ارض موات (بیژن الهی)»؛ «خراب آباد؛ معجزه قرن بیستم (محمد حامد نوری)»؛ «سرزمبن بی حاصل (حسن شهباز، جواد علافچی)»؛ شاعر: تی.اس الیوت تی. اِس. اِلیوت با نام کامل «توماس استرنز الیوت»؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش ماه مارس سال دوهزار و دو میلادی

سرزمین بی حاصل: نخستین چاپ این منظومه با عنوان «سرزمین ویران» با ترجمه جنابان آقایان «حسین رازى»، «حمید عنایت» و «چنگیز مشیرى»، در اسفند ماه سال 1334هجری خورشیدی، در جُنگ هنر و ادب امروز، دفتر اول چاپ شد؛

در زمستان سال1343هجری خورشیدی، جناب «بهمن شعله ور» اقدام به ترجمه این اثر کردند، که با همین عنوان «سرزمین هرز»، در مجله آرش منتشر شد

انتشارات نیل در تهران نیز، در سال1350هجری خورشیدی، این شعرها را با عنوان «دشت سترون و اشعار دیگر» به چاپ رساندند، که ترجمه ی آن را جناب «پرویز لشکرى» انجام داده بودند

در سال1357هجری خورشیدی مترجم دیگرى نیز به سراغ شعرهاى «الیوت» رفتند؛ این بار جناب «حسن شهباز»، کتاب «الیوت» را ترجمه و به بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب سپردند؛

نشر فاریاب در سال1362هجری خورشیدی، ترجمه ی جناب «بهمن شعله ور» را، با عنوان «سرزمین هرز»، بار دیگر به نام خود چاپ و منتشر کرد

آخرین ترجمه پیش از کتاب حاضر نیز، در مؤسسه ی نشر هما، با عنوان «دشت سترون» انجام شد

این کتاب در سال1377هجری خورشیدی در بازار کتاب ایران توزیع شد؛

همچنین نشر امتداد در تهران هم، به سراغ شعرهاى این شاعر بریتانیا رفته، و کتاب «سرزمین هرز» را با ترجمه ی جناب «مهدى وهابى» چاپ و منتشر کرده است

ترجمه هاى یاد شده، در حال حاضر از کتابهاى کمیاب بازار کتاب هستند؛ البته به این فهرست، علاوه بر ترجمه ی جناب «جواد علافچی»، ترجمه ی جناب «هومن عزیزی» را هم، که در سایت اینترنتی «مانی ها» منتشر شده، باید افزود

نقل تکه ای از شعر: درخت خشک سایه ندارد؛ جیرجیرک، راحتت نمی­گذارد؛ در این سنگ­های خشک، صدای آبی نیست؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 24/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 26/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 8 books16k followers
February 1, 2021
أعذر كل من لم يستطع فهم أو محبة الأرض الخراب بالعربية
فأنا عانيت معها وحدي قبل دراستها بلغتها الأصلية
فالرموز وطريقة السرد(العظيمة) تؤثر كثيرا على من لا خلفية له عنها

عندما بدأت في دبلومة الترجمة في الدراسات العليا
وجدت أستاذي في الشعر هو أحد أساتذتي في الترجمة أيضا

وعندما علمت أنه يشرح القصيدة لإحدى الفرق أسرعت وطلبت منه الحضور معهم

وياله من تجدد للسحر
مجددا أعيش أجمل الجلسات الشعرية ‏
وأتمتع بذكاء إليوت وقدرته المذهلة على تكوين القصيد

البعض يتجرأ على وصف القصيدة بالمفككة
وهذا في رأيي محض هراء

فالوحدة العضوية متحققة وبقوة في القصيدة
يظهر ذلك جليا عندما تكتمل وتنتهي

إذا لما اختار إليوت هذا التشظي في تركيب قصيدته
وبناؤها بهذا الشكل وصياغتها بتلك اللغة الصعبة

إن إليوت هنا يستخدم الرمزية بكثافة وبطريقة فريدة
فهذا التشظي يرمز لتشظي أفكار الإنسان المعاصر(وقتها)‏
وتفكك هويته إلى حطام وأشلاء مبعثرة
وانتشار الخواء الفكري والفراغ الروحي
والانحطاط الأخلاقي الذي تركته الحرب وراءها


كتبت القصيدة في أجواء الحرب العالمية الأولى ‏
وبالنظر إلى القصيدة في سياقها التاريخي ‏
نعرف أسباب ودوافع كتابة القصيدة على هذا النحو
جاعلا منها مددا لا يفنى لأفكار العدمية والعبثية ‏

April is the cruellest month breeding
lilacs out of the dead land ‎

مفتتح القصيدة الذي توقفت عنده أنا –وأستاذي طويلا

أعني كيف يمكن أن يكون شهر الربيع هو الأقسى‏
كيف يراه الشاعر بهذه الطريقة المفزعة

إذا اعتمد الشاعر على مفاجئة القارئ من البداية
من الكلمة الأولى
لم يترك له مجالا لأي أمل
فالعدم هو المصير المحتوم‏

ومن ثم يأتي الشتاء ليدفئنا بغطائه الثلجي من النسيان

Winter Kept us warm, covering‏ ‏
Earth in forgetful snow

كان لإليوت صديق حميم فقده بسبب ويلات الحرب‏
وفي آخر مرة رأه كان يلوح له بزهر الليلك ‏

وإذ عرفنا ذلك فقد نرى في بعض الرموز
صورة ذلك الصديق المغدور كالملّاح الفينيقي الغريق


تتعدد الألسنة في هذه الرواية
وبدون سابق إنذار نجد الواحد بعد الآخر يقص علينا روايته
والتي تبدو وكأنها مقتطع من حديث
لا بداية له ولا نهاية
وسنجد لغات أخرى على ألسنة أشخاص كثيرين
فالإنسان في قصيدة إليوت قد يكون من أي مكان في الأرض
ولكنه بالتأكيد يعاني من نفس الخلل ويتحلل تحت وطأة ذاك الدمار‏
وهذه الشخصيات في النهاية تتضح كالتالي:‏
السيدة الثرية
الفتاة التي تعمل على الالة الكاتبة
ستيتسون الشبح‏
فيلوميلا التي كتبها تيريوس الإغريقي‏
اللايدي فريسكا
التاجر يوجينيديز
فيلباس الفينيقي
مدام سوسوستريس قارئة الطالع‏
ذافيشر كينج
تيريسياس النبي الأعمى من أوديسة هومر‏
وأخيرا الراوي


في قصيدته يقتبس إليوت من دانتي وشكسبير وواجنر وغيرهم ‏
ويعتمد على أساطير قديمة كثيرة
ويضفر كل هذا بطريقته الخاصة ‏
ليكون منها واحدة من أمتع وأعجب القصائد في تاريخ البشرية

والحديث عن القصيدة وفك رموزها يطول
وإلى أن تتوافر لدي القدرة والوقت
سأترك انطباعي ها هنا ‏

أنا أحب ذا وايست لاند
أحب قراءتها ودراستها وسماعها والقراءة عنها
أحب كل ما يتعلق بها
أحبها ببساطة... كثيرا
Profile Image for Nataliya.
743 reviews11.8k followers
June 11, 2022
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 just don’t get it. I even found three different Russian translations of this poem hoping that a different language would help elucidate meaning. And still no luck — even after resultant seven(!!!) times reading it. Individual bits make sense (sometimes) but the big picture, the gestalt, escapes me. Unless it’s not supposed to come together, in which case I’m cool.

Ahhh, that’s a good line.

I may be a tad suspicious of poetry that requires extensive annotations to get it. Apparently the poem alone is under 20 pages but there is a 320 page book with annotations for it??? I can just picture Eliot rubbing his hands together and giggling in the supervillain-like manner over the image of generations of English scholar mining the poem for meaning.

But hey, the opening four lines are just amazing; there’s absolutely nothing about them that isn’t perfect:
“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”

I mean, I don’t even care that reading it seven times in a row, in two different languages, left me confused. Those four lines with that rhythm and cadence and whatever that literary trick of ending those lines like that — those alone are worth it.

Oh, and this one caught my attention:
“And upside down in air were towers
Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.”

Yeah. Beautiful. And frustratingly difficult.

But now I can feel all smug knowing where the quotable lines come from, even if I still have no clue about what it actually *is*.

Star ratings? These are meaningless here. So 4 stars for 4 perfect opening lines.


Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
September 1, 2009
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 eventually agreed on the following script. He would start off by quoting the first few lines:

"April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain."

And then he would say, But that's not my favourite bit! and quote the following:

"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess."

He tried it out a couple of times, and it worked! Female Eng Lit majors, I apologise for assisting with this deception. It wasn't very nice of me.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
November 12, 2020
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 narrator, including:

✍ a Lithuanian countess, reminiscing about her childhood and life ("I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter")
✍ a prophetic voice, like Ezekiel, examining the barrenness of civilization ("Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter ...")
✍ Madame Sosostris, a famous but fake clairvoyant, telling a fortune with tarot cards ("I do not find the Hanged Man. Fear death by water. I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring. Thank you.")
✍ a bored woman of leisure, talking to her husband, who answers in his mind ("What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? I never know what you are thinking. Think. / I think we are in rats' alley Where the dead men lost their bones.")
✍ Two women talking in a bar about sex and abortion ("Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart. He'll want to know what you done with that money he gave you To get yourself some teeth.")

... and many more. Those are just the main ones in the first two (of five) sections). Symbols of drought and fertility, spiritual waste and renewal, surface and resurface, showing a different facet each time. I'd forgotten that the Holy Grail (cup) and Holy Lance (spear) doubled as a nifty set of female/male sexual symbols!

This is a poem that deserves to be read, taken apart and studied, and then simply read again and appreciated.

"These fragments I have shored against my ruins..."

*I still have my 2600 page The Norton Anthology of English Literature, which has extensive analysis and footnotes. It also has my helpful handwritten margin notes from 30+ years ago, written in the most amazingly lovely, minuscule handwriting imaginable (seriously, the letters are about a half a millimeter high) that I could never in a million years recreate now.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,150 reviews1,686 followers
April 5, 2022

Non è una semplice poesia: è ben più lunga, è un poemetto.
Ma è anche ben più breve della sua fama, di tutte le parole spese intorno a questo componimento, che è entrato nella storia, non solo letteraria, sia per lo splendido titolo, che per quel primo magnifico verso, Aprile è il più crudele dei mesi.

Ma siccome non potrei proprio dire che io e la poesia abbiamo un rapporto stretto e felice, dato che ci frequentiamo molto poco, ai celebri versi di Eliot sono arrivato per via traversa.
Via cinema, a causa di un film.
Uno dei capolavori di Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now dove Brando/Kurtz recita Eliot.
Anche se non recita questi versi, bensì quelli di un’altra poesia, sempre di T.S. Eliot, intitolata The Hollow Men.
Se non che, Coppola inquadra nell’antro di Kurtz un libro di Eliot insieme ad altri, e The Waste Land è intriso del famoso romanzo di Conrad che viene sempre tirato in ballo a proposito del film di Coppola: la connessione sembra piuttosto diretta, e una cosa tira l’altra, ho voluto leggere anche La terra desolata.

Apocalypse Now fu probabilmente il primo film in lingua originale che ho visto: era quella che all’epoca si chiamava una “prima visione”. Ero appena approdato in California per la prima volta, non potevo certo perderlo.
E ovviamente, l’ho visto senza sottotitoli. Ho capito meno di metà di quanto veniva detto. La voce di Jim Morrison era la cosa più comprensibile, ma su quella ero già ben preparato, conoscevo la canzone a memoria.
Mi sono consolato con le immagini, potentissime.
Ho rivisto il film più e più volte, non solo perché è molto bello, e perché mi piace, ma anche perché quella prima volta la mia comprensione era stata alquanto zoppicante.

In ogni caso fu esperienza utilissima: da allora guardo un film solo in originale (e possibilmente con i sottotitoli) – avremo anche i doppiatori più bravi del mondo, ma il doppiaggio sottrae a un film molto ma molto di più di quanto una traduzione sottragga a un libro letto nella sua lingua.
E poi, vogliamo dire di quando DeNiro, Hoffmann, Stallone, Pacino avevano tutti la stessa voce italiana, per giunta con un difetto di pronuncia (credo si definisca zeppola)?!
E poi, vogliamo dire che da quando ragioni economiche (= risparmio) hanno ridotto i tempi di doppiaggio, anche la qualità dei migliori doppiatori del mondo è ben altra?

La voce di Brando è un’altra esperienza imperdibile.
Il film di Coppola per una serie di circostanze è ammantato di mistero, a cominciare dal momento della realizzazione, le riprese: un uragano che abbatte tutti i set, un’isola filippina incendiata e distrutta per esigenze di copione… Vero o falso?
Alla première del Festival di Cannes, Coppola portò due versioni, o meglio due finali: in uno Willard torna a casa, nell’altro rimane e prende il posto di Kurtz.
Ma le versioni del film sono di più, non differiscono solo per il finale, da una all’altra cambia molto la durata, si può arrivare a più di tre ore.

Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
April 9, 2020

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 of a greener world to come.

First off, let me say I was disappointed in this little edition. I picked it up initially because it contained an introduction by Paul Maldoon, an Irish poet with a reputation for allusiveness and obscurity—just the sort to illuminate this fragmentary and cryptic masterpiece.

But his introduction is brief and not terribly helpful, and his enthusiasm for Irish literature leads him to see literary connections where they do not exist. For example, although I believe he is correct when he says the “Nighttown” episode of Ulysses is a major influence on the poem, he is mistaken when he speculates that Eliot’s working title for it,”He Do the Police in Different Voices” is also derived from this episode. (It is actually a quotation from a character in Dicken’s A Mutual Friend, who is describing the oral reading technique of her precocious foster child, how he brings to life the crime stories published in the sensational magazine, The Police Gazette.)

I was also disappointed in the lack of notes. I was looking for more extensive annotations, because I need them to help me unmask many references in this often obscure poem. But when they said “notes,” I guess the editors just meant Eliot’s original notes, which are almost invariably appended to the poem anyway, whatever the edition.

I’ll end by reproducing a few passages which illustrate something I noticed for the first time this reading: the large number of gothic and decadent images in this poem. In spite of its classical allusions, modernist structure and tone, we are still not that far from the decadent ‘90’s here:
“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
“Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
“Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
“Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
“Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!
“You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”

* * * * * * * * *

In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid—troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odours…

* * * * * * * * *

Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
So rudely forced...
And other withered stumps of time
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.

* * * * * * * * *

A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank...
White bodies naked on the low damp ground
And bones cast in a little low dry garret,
Rattled by the rat’s foot only, year to year.

* * * * * * * * *

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

* * * * * * * *

A woman drew her long black hair out tight
And fiddled whisper music on those strings
And bats with baby faces in the violet light
Whistled, and beat their wings
And crawled head downward down a blackened wall
And upside down in air were towers
Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.

In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind’s home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico co co rico
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain
Profile Image for Gaurav.
149 reviews1,137 followers
April 6, 2017
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 mind-clouding, breath- taking journey of around 433 lines; of which, some can stand on their own alone protruding their beings through the undulations of nothingness. The ghostly but spectral voyage starts with The burial of dead , takes one along through the graveyards, stony mystical landscapes to hyacinth gardens, up to the magical but heart poundings scenes exuded out of mystery of tarot cards. At times, one might feel lost as if something unknown but with mighty prowess is carrying one to nowhere but then a sudden clout strikes your consciousness with a colossal impact, you are taken aback by sudden surge of the intensity as you come to Unreal City; and out of nowhere, death strikes you, Dante' s Inferno emerges out of cloud of your memory. You are taken through threads of life emerging out from dead. The game of black and white squares, arranged in an alternate manner to give a checkered impression, brings you to the stark absurdity of life- the change of Philomel embodies the absurdness prevailed in the life of Philomel which (who) has been transformed by gods, but as a compensation, and who cries her heart out of agony yet the world is so deaf and insensitive to her anguish that it occurs a heart-rending song to it. You are blown further on gust of wind towards a nether world where the most potent questions, but disguised under the sheath of ignorance (or perhaps incompetence), surge up by opening grand (ferocious) arms, from the depth of being and nothingness.

The idea of The Waste Land (perhaps) seems to be sprouted out of modern problems—the war, industrialization, abortion, urban life—which the poet addresses in it and at the same time to participate in a literary tradition. Eliot once, famously, wrote his friend Conrad Akein: ''It's interesting to cut yourself to pieces once in a while and wait to see if the fragments will sprout", the imagination of Eliot resembles the decaying land that is the subject of the poem: nothing seems to take root among the stony rubbish left behind by old poems and scraps of popular culture. As the other poems of Eliot are, The Waste Land is highly symbolic and extensively use allusions, quotations (in several languages), a variety of verse forms, and a collage of poetic fragments to create the sense of speaking for an entire culture in crisis. It's a poem of radical doubt and negation, urging that every human desire be stilled except the desire for self-surrender, for restraint, and for peace. The poets has blend satire and absurdity so well that it looks probably a superhuman task to determine whether the use of some themes/ rhymes, in way which cajoles a seemingly comic effect, is deliberate or accidental as surfaces up. The poem is quite meticulously, but effortlessly, written in fragments- not like traditional verses- which would give altogether different effects to the reader when they are read in fragments or in entirely.

The poem concludes with a rapid series of allusive literary fragments: seven of the last eight lines are quotations. As one moves through these quotations, it might occur as if the poem becomes conscious of itself, the being of the poem emanates from the verbose kingdom of words and the poem itself stands in front of the reader- staring straight into the eyes of reader; and a sudden shiver runs through his/ her spine to realize what has just traverses through the scanner of 'conscious' eyes.

I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?
London Bridge in falling down falling down falling down

Poi s'ascose mel foco che gil affina
Quando fiam uti chelidon- O swallow swallow
Le Prince d'Acquitane a la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fir you. Hieronymo's mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata
Shantih shantih shantih.

It's a great achievement in modernist art but one needs to be patient to truly feel the shivers of its magical existence; as it's a characteristic of modernism, the appreciation of the poem demands devotional labor as well as a sympathetic imagination. Beneath these meticulously crafted poetics lay assumptions about art that were curiously religious, and that fostered theories of poetry as a liturgy for the elect.

The Burial of Dead

Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living or dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
O'ed und leer das Meer.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

Who is the third who walks always beside you>
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gilding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
-But who is that on the other side of you?

Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful dancing of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed.

Profile Image for Alok Mishra.
Author 23 books1,184 followers
August 7, 2019
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...
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
February 12, 2019
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 misquoting, by disagreeing with the statement, and by not getting it at all. I think The Waste Land means just that: human confusion on all levels expressed in poetic language.

February is the stupidest month too, so I might be wrong.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
March 25, 2017
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. So when I entered the world of poetry at degree level I was way out of my depth. It took me a long time to catch up on what I’d missed, and it took me even longer to actually enjoy poetry. The point is reading poetry is different to reading novels. It’s harder to do, and I have to concentrate greatly to do it. But, every so often, when you find the right poem for you, it takes you away as you become lost in a mirage of words, images and metaphors. And sometimes, it strikes a chord within you and you feel everything the poem is saying.

The Waste Land does none of these things. Instead it bombards you with countless intertextual references and information. In order to gain a thorough a succinct understanding of this poem, a poem that takes no longer than thirty minutes to read, I would likely have to spend five-six hours researching the meaning of the terminology, phrasing and historical mentions. That’s how difficult it is. Perhaps if I was a white middle class, highly educated man from the nineteen-twenties then I might be able to appreciate this poem more. But, as it stands, I’m not!

The worse thing about the poem for me is its lack of coherency. This in itself is not a bad thing. It’s a modernist text; this is what modernist authors did. But, when combined with the fact that the surface level of the writing is near incomprehensible to me, it became rather a painful experience to read it. There are some obvious things to take from the poem. It is post world war one and the content is an image of the destruction that followed, the deprivation, the sadness, the darkness and, of course, the actually wasted land ruined by war. But these images aren’t enough for me to enjoy the poem.

It would be like reading Shakespeare’s The Tempest and coming to the conclusion that it is a play about the follies of revenge. This is true, but it is also about many other things that combine to form a piece of artistic brilliance. When I read The Waste Land I feel stupid. I feel like I’m reading something that I cannot quite understand, and this annoys me. I feel like at times T.S Elliot is being pretentious, inserting references just do demonstrate his intellect rather than contribute something meaningful to the poem at large. And I don’t like it. I don't want to find out what they mean.

For me this poem is everything great poetry shouldn’t be. But this is just my opinion. For the right reader this poem would be excellence itself. However, it’s not something I’d personally recommend. And, if that wasn't enough, as a side note, T.S Eliot is highly critical towards Shelley- we could never get on!
Profile Image for Hannah Eiseman-Renyard.
Author 1 book61 followers
September 22, 2009
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, and I personally found it charmless, aloof and with nothing to engage my wish to push through that first impression.

Yes, it's all the pieces of the 'shattered' classical world, thrown together in a different and hideous mixture to reflect the modernists' belief that the world as they knew it, and all previous literary forms, weren't up to the task of reflecting their contemporary world - but I really don't like the result. It doesn't engage me and it doesn't illuminate me. Maybe that was the point. Still don't like it, and I'm not in university anymore, so I don't have to try to keep up with the intellectual dick-swinging which surrounds this piece. Thanks but no thanks.

Anything this determinedly difficult just puts my back up, and the more I learn of Eliot himself the less I feel like tackling it. Okay, Eliot, you're a misogynistic, anti-Semitic elitist who doesn't think anyone without a classical education is worthy of reading your work.

Well, fine. Fuck you. I'll take my comprehensive-educated Jewish arse elsewhere.
Profile Image for Vesna.
206 reviews108 followers
June 3, 2022
Akin to a cubist painting, this long poem is told through broken images, seemingly disjointed fragments, and narrated by multiple voices, with the narrator occasionally reemerging in different episodes with a brief commentary, often cryptic, while at other times, albeit rarely, illuminating. Behind this towering endeavor in poetic modernism, there is a profound sense of melancholy for it reads as Eliot’s personal lament as well as his quest for a spiritual answer to the alienated, lonely and debased life brought upon by the decadence and degradation of modern times. And it still resonates in this centenary year of its publication. The "waste land" is above all spiritual on two planes-personal and civilizational. On the whole, it seems that for Eliot the “memory and desire” (already mentioned in the 3rd line), laden with multiple meanings/contexts through the poem, are at the root of suffering in interpersonal relations between the sexes (inflicting equally all levels of the social hierarchy) and in society at large, culminating in the bloodshed of World War I.

The poem is very complicated, it’s monumental in literary, mythological and religious references, impossible to decipher without good annotations. Eliot himself provided the notes, reproduced in the edition I read, that refer to the sources that inspired particular passages, usually inserted in the poem as quotes that underwent different kinds of metamorphoses in his hands. They are encyclopedic in range, whether from William Shakespeare (The Tempest, Anthony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Coriolanus), Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Virgil’s The Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and Tristan und Isolde, Augustine’s Confessions, the Buddha’s Fire Sermon, The Upanishads, The Bible, Frazer’s The Golden Bough, Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, and dozens and dozens of others. While essential for understanding Eliot’s personal inspirations, his notes are certainly not sufficient to understand all the allusions in the poem’s text, including those referencing particular names or scenes in London’s life in the early 1920s. Since different passages and the poem as a whole have been variously interpreted, I feel that a first-time reader, like myself, is best served with informative annotations rather than with an interpretive commentary.

There is an excellent documentary that gives a general sense of The Waste Land and Eliot’s life, with the phenomenal Eileen Atkins, Michael Gough and Edward Fox reading the excerpts, and discussed by no less than Stephen Spender, Frank Kermode, Peter Ackroyd, and others.


(.5 taken off as the poem cannot be read and interpreted on its own without annotations about numerous allusions and often obscure references)
Profile Image for Matthew Ted.
713 reviews589 followers
December 6, 2020
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. No, south from here is only water, the faithful sea. Swimming the other day: the cold surprised us, as it always does. Skin salt and slick. And underwater, like forgetful snow, for all the fears washed from my head – they were replaced with water. But it is not Death by Water yet. My swimming took me back to the Pyrenees, walking in the hills, swimming in the rivers… in the mountains, there you feel free. A dog’s bark. Pine needles. And on the balcony, with a shower of rain - followed by thunder (allow me to move further into the poem here: DA). The thunder rolled through the mountains – in the winter, it makes the snow quiver, and fall from the leaves. I often wonder if a tree’s voice would be muffled from under so much snow…Son of man, You cannot say, or guess. When the thunder and the snow held, and the summer surprised us, we drank coffee, and talked for an hour on that balcony, just a stone’s throw from my bed, draped with a mosquito net – as if a veil. I’ll say again, I read, much of the night. France, like all other travels, return to me in broken images. Back in England- under the brown fog of a winter dawn, memories roll away, as if thunder through the mountains. Those broken images remain. Maybe I’ll dream, that in a crowd there is a man I know, with his face turned away. Maybe I’ll dream that he has a man buried in his garden. I ask what kind of tree would grow from the body of a man? Answer: A tree that would whisper through layers of snow.

A Game of Chess

Sweat down my back like salt. My brother strikes down a Bishop, I feel fear for a Rook. The sun reflecting light upon the table. In these moments of silence, between another Pawn’s demise, one’s mind cannot help but wander. A girl I once knew, learning the movements of a King, or Queen. Her parents footsteps shuffled on the stair. I could say anything, “My nerves are bad tonight.” She would not listen. And as I read late into the night – purple ink through her curtains – she said, “Why do you never speak. Speak. What are you thinking of?” So the memories loop. We are bored, so I say – We shall play a game of chess. There is no chance of rain. Even as we play we wonder, What shall we do tomorrow? There is nothing more to do. Another Pawn falls. HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME - dinner. We eat quietly – memories drifting like snow. Until, good night, good night, until tomorrow.

The Fire Sermon

For I have finished University now, and the list of people to ring has been cleaved in two. No more empty bottles on a kitchen table at night, no more cigarette butts. Not a single testimony of summer nights. Before University, my friends left school, and left left no addresses. One in Bath. One in Dubai. In College we went to Rome together- we learnt of Carthage – now Tunisia. Rome was our ethereal city, we said – the Tiber sweats! The peal of bells white towers! And like all great war, burning burning burning burning. If I were Tiresias, I would have known that our days were numbered, that all days are numbered. That time is unstoppable. If only I could be throbbing between two lives, I cry. I sat down and wept once for them, in the past, and now I do so in the present: the last fingers of leaf clutch and sink into the wet bank - and they are swept away – forgotten, as I.

Death by Water

Returning again to the sea, entering the whirlpool. The water drags one down. My brother almost drowned in a capsized boat. But he didn’t, we are home now, around the cry of gulls, with our parents. My mother quiet. My father not. He laughs, crinkle-eyed, and says I was once handsome and tall as you - and my brother and I take that for him saying – I know I am getting older.

What the Thunder Said

I have spoken of thunder. The downpours in France, England, Croatia… I remember them well. The night after thunder on the beach, clear again: sweat is dry and feet are in the sand, the tide plays with us. Silhouetted mountains of rock - but tomorrow, there will be thunder without rain. Back in the Pyrenees there is not even solitude in the mountains. The cicada has its own chorus. The grass is always singing. When my brother returned from his travels in India, Asia, we all wanted to ask who is that on the other side of you?, as if he brought someone home with him, as if he had grown an extra shadow, become a new man. Travelling gives us rebirth – even in our empty rooms in Dubrovnik, Yosemite, Budapest, we cut down an old self to create a new one. We whisper: We who were living are now dying. We can tell ourselves this things when we are away from home, because when we are away from home, nothing scares us. I look ahead up the white road - my future – and see, sometimes, falling towers, and other times, a palace. There are reasons. We cannot know how many cycles are left within us, how many times we will be reborn. We do not know where we will go or what we will find. We may find Paradise. Or we may find The Waste land. And yet, I believe, that even in The Waste Land, there is chance for rebirth, for a metamorphosis. These fragments I have shored against my ruins. In a flash of lightning I am, again, anew.
Profile Image for Gabrielle Grosbety .
114 reviews74 followers
December 18, 2020
“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 even the most calming, cleansing idea of an antidote, water, leads to our inevitable deaths. There is something relentlessly oppressive, habitually slovenly, and drenched chillingly in how haunting it can be to live and feel, which characterizes this poem’s greatest intricacies, as it never backs away from entering into the messy realm of our own sentience and ability to perceive that the end will eventually draw near.

This idea of the universe becomes absurdly paradoxical as the poem speaks of being able to not connect nothing with nothing. That calls to mind a feeling of desperate alienation and lack of ability to make sense of anything, as you walk around in a confused blizzard of your own making, which exists amidst the depths of your own self-created wasteland. As you also find yourself living in a horrifying purgatory in which you’re “neither / Living nor dead” and you continue to know nothing, as silence washes over you mixed with vacant light. However, there could also be and arise an omnipotent presence of a dulled optimism, amidst the trapping idea of purgatory, as between living and death springs up like an incalculable flower the capacity to just quietly exist. As that slight awareness of existence fills the hollowed parts of our soul like a herbal tea warming our insides in which we’ve felt a bitter chill for so long.

“A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.”

These lines continually whisper with the vividness of harried existentialism with the faintness of a beauty, which exists in beckoning calamity and breathless quietude, astir with temptation and desire to believe and hope. Because to believe and to hope is to stay sane amongst the greater puzzle and riddles that besiege our existence and world. We will never understand or be able to translate the foreignness of an experience we’ve never lived or understand even the closeness of the world that lives underneath our feet and that was much the feeling that surrounded parts of this poem, but other parts stood out to me with a clarity that I couldn’t deny because those parts were part of the ornately rich tapestry, which strings us together, marking a world in which we are connected by our own universality and shared sense of the beauty and pain of the human experience.
Profile Image for Håkon.
35 reviews48 followers
March 29, 2017
I must confess. I have no idea what I just read. But it was the most beautiful thing.
Profile Image for فؤاد.
1,057 reviews1,721 followers
February 12, 2017
هر مؤلف فقط تا سه بار فرصت داره آدم رو تحت تأثیر قرار بده، تا وقتی که به کلی کنار گذاشته بشه.
تی اس الیوت تا حالا دو تا فرصتش رو سوخت کرده!!
Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
405 reviews205 followers
April 28, 2019
Σπουδαίο δείγμα μεταμοντερνισμού. Μου άρεσε, ίσως γιατί δεν διάβασα ποτέ κάτι παρόμοιο. Για ένα περίεργο λόγο μου θύμισε τα ποιήματα του James Douglas (Jim) Morrison, που διάβασα πριν 20 χρόνια.

Ξεκίνησα από τη μετάφραση, η οποία κυλούσε καλά σε γενικές γραμμές έως ότου συνάντησα λέξεις που δεν κολλούσαν εμφανέστατα, οπότε συνέχισα με το πρωτότυπο, που δεν ήταν δύσκολο. Η έκδοση που έχω είναι των Gutenberg, ενώ είχα ως μέτρο σύγκρισης τη μετάφραση του Γαβριηλίδη, η οποία ήταν καλύτερη.
Profile Image for Fernando.
680 reviews1,090 followers
November 3, 2022
Insisto, no me gusta la poesía, pero cada vez que encuentro un libro como este de T. S. Eliot lo quiero en mi biblioteca.
Al igual que "La balada del viejo marinero" de Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Las flores del mal" de Charles Baudelaire o "Una temporada en el infierno" de Arthur Rimbaud, sin entender mucho, me deleito con lo que leo.
"Te mostraré lo que es el miedo en un puñado de polvo", amenaza Eliot.
Y tiene razón.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,858 reviews514 followers
April 5, 2022
Poetry from the depths mixes references from the past to the contemporary world of that young twentieth century. The flower of words feeds on hummus, and TS Eliot considers this beauty born of the ugly, the unpleasant and the dreary. Thus, modern life and its dull appearance become spaces of a poetic genre that we would like to confine to the imaginary and the dream. The fog and the dirty glass impose their presence through the verb, which gives them a new weight, almost a new value. An Anglo-Saxon classic to taste in translation or the original language!
Profile Image for Rakhi Dalal.
208 reviews1,431 followers
February 8, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Davide.
488 reviews103 followers
June 6, 2022
Limerick della terra desolata che è sempre nel mio cuor
(ispirati da Wendy Cope)

In aprile non sei mai contento
Terra arsa dal sole e spavento
Veggenti stressanti
Pendolari opprimenti
Vedo Stetson: gli pianto un lamento!

Lei sedeva su un trono stupendo
Scintillava, i capelli pulendo
Domandava risposte
Feci poche proposte
Tristi come Al e Lil: un tormento.

Il Tamigi e le ossa ed i ratti.
Sbircia Tìresia i letti disfatti
L’impiegata coperta
Suona musica esperta
Wei la la. S’ingarbuglia da matti.

Un fenicio chiamato Flebàs
Scordò uccelli e gli affari di qua
Ma senza un lamento
Facea testamento
Or lasciato nel mar marcirà.

Senza l’acqua, una sete da pena
Poi diluvio, citazioni a catena.
Van dal Sanscrito a Dante,
Fino al monte Himavante,
Senza note ’un capite una sega!
Profile Image for Roula.
499 reviews137 followers
March 12, 2017
ειχα πρωτοδιαβασει αυτο το ποιημα στα αγγλικα εκει στα 20 περιπου, στα πρωτα χρονια της σχολης και η αναμνηση που μου ειχε αφησει ηταν ενα μεγαλο ερωτηματικο και ενα απεραντο αγχος για το τι στην ευχη θα γραψω αν πεσει στην εξεταστική. .α! και κατι για τον απριλη που ειναι ο cruelest month ..ετσι ειχα απομνημονεύσει διαφορα κομματια του sparknotes (life saver!) και απλα ηλπιζα..τωρα 10 χρονια περιπου μετα το ξαναδιαβασα, σε μεταφραση Σεφερη με τις σημειωσουλες μου διπλα(αλλιως δεν βγαινει κατα την ταπεινη μου αποψη)και ω ποσο μεγαλη διαφορα κανουν αυτα τα 10 χρονια? η μεταφραση? το γεγονος οτι ηταν για την προσωπικη μου ευχαριστηση και οχι για εξετασεις? ολα μαζι ισως..ειναι ενα ποιημα..εμπειρια.ειναι το πιο δυσκολο κειμενο που εχει γραφτει μαζι με τον οδυσσεα του Τζόυς ,οπως λενε αυτοι που ξερουν και αξιζει να ταλαιπωρηθεις για καθε συλλαβη του..
Profile Image for David.
1,419 reviews
December 26, 2022
Bookends. In February 1922, one hundred years ago, James Joyce wrote Ulysses; in December, T.S. Eliot published in America The Waste Land with notes. Both hailed in modernity. The novel would never be the same; poetry took a blind leap forward.

Unlike Ulysses that spans 750 pages, The Waste Land is a mere 432 lines. It would not even fill a 32 page book so the American publisher asked and published a version complete with notes. Why? So we can understand the poem better. The notes help but there are a lot of questions that arise.

There has been a great deal written on this book. English classes focus on this poem. I was fortunate to have heard the London Review of Books Close Readings series with Seamus Perry and Mark Ford that truly help to elucidate this poem. I read the poem twice and listened to the podcast twice. Believe me it works.

Written after the First World War while Eliot himself was on leave after suffering an emotional breakdown, you would think this was a dark poem, as the name suggests. Yes, there is talk of the dead, but it draws from numerous historical and literary references from the Aeneid, Ovid, to the Divine Comedy, Tristan and Isolde, Paradise Lost, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Spencer and even the Upanishad. It also speaks of the modern world: of men, of women, sexuality, spirituality, of loss, of hope, and in particular, of London, England. That’s a lot in such a short span. And that is it’s modernity.

From its beginning:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

It’s middle:

To Carthage then I came

Burning burning burning burning
O Lord Thou pluckest me out
O Lord Thou pluckest


To the end:

I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the acrid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?
London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down
Poi s’acose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam uti chelidon-O swallow swallow
Le Prince d’Aquitane à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.

Divided in five parts, the language is what makes the poem daring for the time. The poem is dedicated to Ezra Pound, who also edited the manuscript. I found the work powerful, beautiful and poignant. Yes it was written a hundred years ago but it still fascinates and resonates today.

NOTE: I originally read this poem under “The Waste Land and Other Stories” in 1982.
Profile Image for Ahmed Ibrahim.
1,196 reviews1,593 followers
May 14, 2016
" من هذه الدراسة يتضح لنا أن الثورة الشعرية التي أحدثها ت.س.إليوت بقصيدة "أرض الضياع" لم تكن ثورة في الشعر الإنجليزي أو الأمريكي فحسب بل كانت ثورة في فن الشعر بصفة عامة بحيث امتد تأثيرها ليشمل معظم شعراء العالم في مختلف اللغات، سواء هؤلاء الذين قرءوها في نصها الأصلي أو مترجمة. فقد تجاوز بها إليوت كل القضايا التقليدية التي أثارها النقاد والشعراء، خاصة في العالم العربي حيث الجدل المثار بين أنصار الفصحى أو أنصار العامية، بين مؤيدي الشعر العمودي المقفى وبين مؤيدي الشعر الحر والمرسل، بين من يعتمدون على الكلمة واللفظ وبين من يلجأون إلى الاستعارة والرمز والصورة. فكل هذه المقننات النقدية والقوالب الشعرية جاءت نتيجة للإبداع الشعري وليس العكس، ولذلك يجب ألا تتحول إلى قيود تحد من الانطلاقات التي لابد أن تطور من مسيرة الشعر وتجدد من طاقاته الخلاقة الكفيلة بابتكار مقننات نقدية وأنماط وتقاليد شعرية جديدة. "

دراسة رائعة لنبيل راغب ساعدتني في ما لم تقم به القصيدة بعد ترجمتها وهي الوقوف على جماليات النص وعظمته ومدى تأثيره في الشعر عامة، فلكي تعي هذه القصيدة لابد أن تقرأها بلغتها الأصلية، فبالرغم من أن الترجمة جيدة جدًا إلا أن القصيدة تفتقر للروح الشعرية بعد ترجمتها.
الشرح والتحليل رائع من المترجم، فهذه القصيدة لا تقرأ بدون شرح حتى تستطيع فهمها.

القدرة على العطاء بسخاء، والرحمة بالآخرين، وكبح جماح النفس الأمارة بالسوء من أجل بلوغ السلام الذي يفوق الادراك؛ وهي الوصايا الثلاث الذي اختتم بها إليوت رائعته الشعرية الخالدة
Profile Image for Evripidis Gousiaris.
229 reviews95 followers
March 19, 2020
Όπως προτείνει ο μεταφραστής του... ΜΗΝ το διαβάσετε με τα μάτια.
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,394 reviews703 followers
February 20, 2016
دوستانِ گرانقدر،این دفترِ شعر از 10 شعرِ بلند و 5 شعرِ کوتاه تشکیل شده است و در پایان نیز مقاله ای از « الیوت» با نامِ « سنّت و استعدادِ فردی» چاپ شده است
به انتخاب ابیاتی از این کتاب را در زیر، برایِ شما بزرگواران مینویسم
من فكر مي كنم، ما در محاصرۀ موش هايي هستيم
آن جا، كه مردگان استخوا ن هايشان را
از دست داده اند
موج هايِ قهوه ايِ مه
چهره هاي كج و كوجِ خيابان را به سويِ من پرتاب مي كند
و از زني كه با دامني گل آلود شتابان مي گذرد
لبخندي مي زند، لبخندي بی هدف
كه پرپر مي زند در هوا
و گم مي شود بر بامِ خانه ها
ميان تمنا
و تشنج
ميان توانايي
و وجود
ميان بودن
و سقوط
سايه مي افتد
چون زمين از آنِ توست
چون از آنِ تو
زندگي هست
چون از آن توست
چنين به پايان مي رسد جهان
چنين به پايان مي رسد جهان
چنين به پايان مي رسد جهان
نه با انفجاري كه با ناله اي
:چنين است در سرزمينِ ديگر مرگ
بيدار شدن در تنهايي
به لحظه اي كه
از التهاب مي لرزيم
لب هايي خواهانِ بوسه اند
و نيايش به سنگ شكسته بدل مي شود
مگذار نزديك تر شوم در سرزمينِ رويايي مرگ
بگذار من هم لباسِ مبدل به تن كنم
مويِ موش، پوستِ كلاغ، چوب پاره در كشت زار
كه به رفتارِ باد رفتار مي كند
آن ها كه با چشم هايِ باز
به سرزمينِ ديگرِ مرگ رفتند
ما را به ياد دارند- يادشان اگر باشد
نه چون ارواحِ خشمگينِ سرگردان
چون مردانِ پوك
انباشته از پوشال
وقتي هر چه كه هست و هر چه كه بود روزي فرسوده مي شود
بينايي، بويايي، شنوايي، چشايي
لامسه ام را از دست دادم
چه بايدشان مي كردم تا به تو نزديكتر شوم؟
دوستانِ گرامی، با آنکه این اشعار به پایِ ضعیفترین شعرهایِ شاعرانِ فارسی زبان هم نمیرسد
اما تلاش کردم که بهترین ابیات را برایتان بنویسم
«پیروز باشید و ایرانی»
Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,889 reviews428 followers
March 28, 2017
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 rages at the ultimate impotence of classic literature to warn the individual or society about the utter devastation and cruelty of war. The poem is full of allusions to those myths and wiseman sayings which reflect the darkness in humanity rather than the wisdom. He includes bits of memory in his poem which emphasize the cluelessness and obtuseness of people.

In my opinion, most Westerners suffer at a certain point in their lives a sudden feeling that civilization is collapsing because they think society has moved away from the classic ideals which maintained the life they imagine they grew up in. In most cases however, civilization is actually continuing on as it always has; it's the veils of classic idealism that the educated observer was looking through that were ripped way. To a child, Reality is a description which he has been taught to believe in. Grownups do their best to live ideally, but I think true wisdom is accepting that we often fall short of what we aspire to, but we need to get on anyway. Eliot's poem, though, is a wail of despair.

I read that hundreds of thousands of young male aristocrats, many of whom were officers and the next generation of leaders, died in WWI along with millions of 'ordinary' people. I guess that this massive die-off of millions hastened the end of centuries-old medieval-class relationships which probably had given comfort, continuity and stability to most European people of the early 20th century. But the generation educated to rule by maintaining class divisions beneficial to that upper class died.

I think wars before WWI used to have long pauses in the conduct of war, which was no longer possible in WWI due to the advances of war mechanization. Adding to the psychological turmoil, for a soldier surviving ongoing warfare it means you get sent to the front on multiple tours. In addition, the aftermath of every war fought close to home is a huge upheaval because of the resulting shortage of young men, a spread of disease vectors, transfers of and new concentrations of wealth, and disrupted markets.

But added to the usual wartime disruptions, I think, WWI was the first war which had massive long-distance killing, not the more honorable warrior to warrior battle. Fighting sword to sword probably feels different emotionally than being killed by invisible shrapnel or powerful percussions that come out of nowhere without pause, from hearing the sound for hours of constant shelling, or dying from a gas which suffocates you invisibly. I can only imagine it.

I've heard accounts from Vietnam fighters, and I guess among the usual horrors that cause PTSD, in particular, was not being able to see anything because of the thick jungles combined with the distances bullets could travel invisibly. I think the change from single face-to-face combat to sudden mass mechanized death on any army unprepared by training or TV or movies or video games (I'm not being flippant) was exponentially devastating. I know everything about war is bad, but I'm guessing if you can't see, hear, or feel the distant soldier who is killing your friends sitting 1 inch from you is a more searing experience, even with mental preparation.

I think random death makes the ideals of unquestioned patriotism and honor more difficult to hang onto. Among the few rewards of being a warrior is that 'mano y mano' victory - I believe it's biology-based for many men. However, when a person's strength and intelligence and value is made moot simply because of where you accidentally happen to be standing or sitting when shrapnel strikes, it probably feels unjust, wrong, unfair, whimsical, more pointless, more meaningless, and random than you can mentally prepare for. You'd have to be shocked by the randomness of dying! It would raise questions about everything you believed about the protective 'shields' of religion, societal mores and expectations; and about being a good person as a strategy for deserving to stay alive, and about the having a purity of purpose to be deserving of winning, even being too educated, thus too smart or valuable to be killed, etc.

For most Americans, the closest experience of the possibility of death comes from car or sport accidents and illnesses. Many people, of course, rely on the normal life patterns surrounding them for reassurance that they are magically protected from death. In war, though, there are no normal life patterns around them. Soldiers become aware that anyone can die and no one has magical immunity. No prayer, no amulet, no ritual, no strength or skill, no powerful person or strategy, nothing can protect you from a sudden act of warfare in the physical space around you. In the days of battle you see perfectly decent, good, family men chopped mercilessly into pieces despite their utilizing every bit of training and good fortune.

I feel like having a bit of a rant myself.
Profile Image for Chiara Pagliochini.
Author 6 books384 followers
January 24, 2012
“Ho i nervi a pezzi stasera. Sì, a pezzi. Resta con me.
Parlami. Perché non parli mai? Parla.
A che stai pensando? Pensando a cosa? A cosa?
Non lo so mai a cosa stai pensando. Pensa.”

Penso che siamo nel vicolo dei topi
Dove i morti hanno perso le ossa.

Mi sento sola stasera. Le lacrime premono sulla punta degli occhi. E c’è un piccolo nodo di nausea là in fondo, che non si vuol sfogare in nessun modo. Forse è la stanchezza, è tutto il giorno che sto sui libri con questo piccolo entusiasmo frenetico. O forse è tristezza. Una tristezza piagnucolosa e indefinita, che viene da tanti pensieri sciocchi, inutili, astrattissimi.
Eliot si è aggiunto a tutto questo come un sommario, una coroncina, un regalo premio coi punti dell’Agip. Non è colpa sua, o almeno non solo. Ma sono sicura che non se la prenderà se gli attribuisco un po’ della colpa.
Ho cominciato La terra desolata alle diciotto e trenta di questo pomeriggio. Alle dieci e trenta, ho alzato bandiera bianca. Non c’è dubbio, sono troppo piccola, troppo poco intelligente, ho studiato troppo poco per capirla. Eliot non è un poeta gentile, non vuole farsi capire, non ti presta le battute su un piatto d’argento perché tu possa farle tue e recitarle innanzi a un pubblico. Eliot sta lì, dice le sue battute, parla di antropologia, di cristologia, di tarocchi, di mitologia, e senza le sue note neanche il Padreterno nella sua onniscienza lo avrebbe probabilmente inteso. Ma non si tratta di questo. Ho fatto i miei sforzi, una corsa frenetica dai versi alle note, dalle note ai versi, dall’introduzione ai versi alle note, i commenti dell’antologia, la pagina su Wikipedia. Qualsiasi cosa fosse a mia disposizione per penetrare anche un poco in questo labirinto tascabile. Nulla da fare, la profondità mi rifiuta. Ho intaccato solo di poco la superficie e mi sento come uno che cerchi di pulire il Titanic dalle incrostazioni usando uno spazzolino da denti.
Ma vedete, non è neanche questo. Non è la frustrazione. È il sapore della frustrazione, è quel che rimane in bocca alla fine, quando hai detto “voglio capire” e hai concluso “non ho capito”. È angoscia, sgomento, ansia da prestazione, rammarico, contrizione. Vorresti far qualcosa, scrollare le pagine perché ne piova una polverina dorata di conoscenza. Niente da fare, non è così che si fa.
E allora, se hai percorso rigo per rigo cercando te stessa e non ti sei trovata, se hai scorso le sillabe perché si aprissero e loro hanno solo sbattuto le ciglia, cosa ti resta? Ecco, io penso che resti proprio quel che si promette. Una Terra Desolata, un nulla, un enigma, un vuoto, un intrico ineffabile, la tua miseria umana. “In una manciata di polvere vi mostrerò la paura”. Certo, Eliot, questo lo fai proprio bene.

“Sulle Sabbie di Margate.
Non posso connettere
Nulla con nulla.
Le unghie rotte di mani sporche.
La mia gente, gente modesta che non chiede


“Dayadhvam: ho udito la chiave
Girare nella porta una volta e girare una volta soltanto
Noi pensiamo alla chiave, ognuno conferma una prigione
Solo al momento in cui la notte cade”


“Sedetti sulla riva
A pescare, con la pianura arida dietro di me
Riuscirò alla fine a porre ordine nelle mie terre?
Il London Bridge sta cadendo sta cadendo sta cadendo
Con questi frammenti ho puntellato le mie rovine”

Io non voglio immaginare Eliot affacciato alla finestra. Non voglio sapere cosa vedeva. Questa terra apocalittica, arida, avida, atavica, allucinata io mi rifiuto di credere che fosse la sua. Ma era questo il suo sguardo? Era davvero questo il mondo? Il mondo dopo una guerra mondiale era così? Gli occhi che lo guardavano erano questi? O siamo di fronte al delirio di un pazzo, di un bislacco intellettuale, di uno scrittore egoista ed elitario che spende e spande citazioni a vanvera? Ed io che sono qui seduta al tavolo della cucina, che ascolto musica nelle cuffie a tutto volume per isolarmi dal volume della tv, che aspetto che la casa si svuoti e si acquieti solo per ritrovare una dimensione intima, spirituale, non corrotta, io ragazzina ignorante dell’anno duemiladodici, che si suppone vedrà la fine di questo mondo apocalittico, arido, avido, atavico, allucinato – io, che cosa ne so?
Niente. Io sono qui e posso solo essere triste. Sono triste perché non farò mai poesia. Non ho le palle per la poesia: il mondo non ha bisogno di altre scempiaggini sentimentaliste. Sono triste perché non vedo la cresta dell’onda, non faccio parte di qualcosa, sono una bollicina in isolamento, e non come questi scrittori modernisti che si conoscevano tutti, prendevano il tè insieme, scopavano insieme, si copiavano, si correggevano e cercavano di andare da qualche parte. Noi stiamo andando da qualche parte? Io sto andando da qualche parte? Stiamo fotografando il mondo? Stiamo costruendo qualcosa? Qualcuno potrà leggere le nostre terre desolate?
A volte penso semplicemente che ci sia troppo squallore. Che ci sentiamo ripugnati. Che non sappiamo guardare perché non vogliamo vedere. E per questo non lasceremo niente che valga la pena leggere. Ma forse sono troppo intransigente. D’altronde io parlo per me. Gli altri, in qualche parte del mondo, qualcosa di buono lo staranno pur facendo.
Ma poi penso che non è così importante. Mio padre, ad esempio, dice che non è importante. Certo, c’è la fame nel mondo a cui pensare e pure i conflitti in Cecenia e anche le liberalizzazioni, certo. Dobbiamo pensare a queste cose, dobbiamo prendere una laurea, dobbiamo trovarci un lavoro. Non possiamo perdere tempo a pensare alla letteratura in astratto. No, la letteratura non si mangia, non mette niente in pancia e neanche salva il mondo. Come diceva Oscar Wilde, tutta l’arte è sommamente inutile.
Certo, non ci dobbiamo pensare. Non pensiamoci. Non serve.
La Terra Desolata non mi serve e non serve capirla. No.
Ma allora perché la voglio capire? E perché non poter capirla mi fa venire così voglia di vomitare?

“Che farò ora? Che farò?
“Uscirò fuori così come sono; camminerò per la strada
“Coi miei capelli sciolti, così. Cosa faremo domani?

“Cosa faremo mai?”
L’acqua calda alle dieci.
E se piove, un’automobile chiusa alle quattro.
E giocheremo una partita a scacchi,
Premendoci gli occhi senza palpebre, in attesa che
Bussino alla porta.

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