The first subdivision, as the subdivision rubric indicates, is about decease. The subdivision begins with the words “ April is the cruellest month, ” which is possibly one of the most remarked upon and most of import mentions in the verse form. Those familiar with Chaucer ‘s verse form The Canterbury Tales will acknowledge that Eliot is taking Chaucer ‘s introductory line from the prologue – which is optimistic about the month of April and the regenerative, vitalizing season of spring – and turning it on its caput. Just as Chaucer ‘s line sets the tone for The Canterbury Tales, Eliot ‘s dark words inform the reader that this is traveling to be a dark verse form. Throughout the remainder of the first subdivision, as he will make with the other four subdivisions, Eliot shifts among several disconnected ideas, addresss, and images.
Jointly, the episodic scenes in lines 1 through 18 discuss the natural rhythm of decease, which is symbolized by the passing of the seasons. The first seven lines employ images of spring, such as “ engendering / Lilacs, ” and “ Dull roots with spring rain. ” In line 8, Eliot tells the reader “ Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee. ” The clip has shifted from spring to summer. And while the mention to Starnbergersee – a lake South of Munich, Germany – has been linked to assorted facets of Eliot ‘s yesteryear, to Eliot ‘s readers at the clip the verse form was published, it would hold stuck out for other grounds, given that World War I had reasonably late ended. During the war Germany was one of the chief oppositions of the Allied forces, which included both the United States and England – Eliot ‘s two places. By including German mentions, which continue in the following several lines and culminate in a German phrase, Eliot is raising an image of the war. Who are the dead that are being buried in this subdivision? All the soldiers and other casualties who died during World War I.
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The German phrase leads into a conversation from a sleighing episode in the childhood of a miss named Marie. The season has changed once more, to winter. Marie notes, “ In the mountains, there you feel free, ” connoting that when she is non in the mountains, on a sledding escapade, she does non experience free. In other words, Marie feels trapped, merely as humanity feels trapped in its ain waste land. In line 19 Eliot starts to give some ocular cues about the waste land of modern society. “ What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish? ” the poet asks. In response, Eliot refers to a scriptural transition, turn toing the reader as “ Son of adult male. ” The poet tells the reader that he or she “ can non state, or conjecture ” what the roots of this waste land are, because the reader knows merely “ A pile of broken images ” where “ the dead tree gives no shelter. ” These and other images depict a waste, dead land. But the poet says in line 27, “ I will demo you something different. ” In lines 31 to 34 Eliot reproduces a vocal Sung by a crewman in the beginning of Wagner ‘s Tristan und Isolde. Eliot is ask foring the reader to come on a journey, a circuit of this modern waste land. The vocal – which asks why person is proroguing a journey, when there is fresh wind blowing toward a home-land – indicates Eliot ‘s desire to renew this waste land. In fact his usage of the word “ Hyacinths, ” which are symbolic of Resurrection, underscores this thought.
In line 43 Eliot introduces the character of Madame Sosostris, a gifted mystic with a “ wicked battalion of cards, ” or tarot cards. She pulls the card of “ the drowned Phoenician Sailor, ” another image of decease and besides a direct mention to a birthrate God who, harmonizing to Sir James Frazer ‘s The Golden Bough, was drowned at the terminal of summer. Again these images jointly illustrate the natural rhythm of decease. Following the Madame Sosostris transition, Eliot, get downing in line 60, introduces the “ Unreal City, / Under the brown fog of a winter morning, / A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many. ” These lines suggest a similar description of the modern metropolis by Baudelaire. The image of brown fog is blue, as is the following line, which notes “ I had non thought decease had undone so many. ” Eliot here is depicting a wakeful decease. These people are alive in the physical sense, but dead in all others. It is a sad metropolis, where “ each adult male fixed his eyes before his pess. ”
In line 68 Eliot notes there is “ a dead sound on the concluding shot of nine, ” which refers to the start of the typical work twenty-four hours. In other words these people trudge along in a kind of life decease, traveling to work, which has become an terminal in itself. Within this emanation, nevertheless, the poet sees person he knows, “ Stetson, ” who was with the poet “ in the ships at Mylae! ” Mylae is a mention to an ancient conflict from the First Punic War, which by extension evokes an image of decease on the civilisation graduated table. The poet asks his friend if the “ cadaver you planted last twelvemonth in your garden ” has “ begun to shoot? ” Here once more Eliot is raising the thought of Resurrection, and of the natural rhythm of decease and life. First, when dead people decompose, their organic affair fertilizes the land, which loops back to the first line of the subdivision, in which April, “ the cruellest month, ” is engendering flowers, which presumptively are feeding off this decomposed flesh. But in a more specific manner, this transition refers to Frazer ‘s book, which inside informations a crude ritual whereby in April these crude civilisations would works a male cadaver, or merely the adult male ‘s genitalias, in order to guarantee a big crop. This crop, which can be interpreted symbolically as the metempsychosis of civilisation, is potentially threatened by “ the Dog, ” which has been interpreted as the deficiency of significance in life.
Critics interpret the Canis familiaris this manner mostly because of the concluding lines of the subdivision, a quotation mark from Baudelaire, which indict the reader for his or her portion in making the waste land by sucking all significance and, therefore life, out of society.
Ii. a Game of Chess
In the 2nd subdivision Eliot turns his attending from decease to sex. The rubric of this subdivision refers to a scene from Thomas Middleton ‘s Elizabethan drama Women Beware Women, in which the moves of a chess game between two people are linked onstage to the seduction played out by another brace. In the first lines of the subdivision, Eliot creates a exuberant image of a affluent adult female, who sits in a chair “ like a bright throne. ” The scene besides includes “ criterions wrought with fruited vines, ” a “ sevenbranched candelabrum, ” and “ gems. ” On the adult female ‘s tabular array are “ satin instances poured in rich profuseness. ” Inside these instances are “ unusual man-made aromas, ” which “ drowned the sense in smell. ” In other words aphrodisiacs ( unreal substances used to make or heighten sexual desire ) . Since sex is linked to reproduction, and therefore birthrate, the fact that aphrodisiacs are needed is stating. In this room there is besides a picture above the mantle that depicts “ Philomel, ” a mention to a classical adult female who was raped ( indicated by the words “ impolitely forced ” ) by “ the brutal male monarch ” Tereus. Eliot notes that “ other withered stumps of clip, ” or figures from history, are depicted on the walls. Then he launches into several disparate transitions, the first of which is a hysterical supplication by the adult female in the room to her lover. “ My nervousnesss are bad to-night, ” she says, and “ Stay with / me. ” She besides asks the adult male what he is believing, and repeats the word “ believe ” several times in both inquiry and statement signifier, stoping with a one-word sentence, “ Think. ” Eliot is seeking to acquire his readers to believe about the modern waste land, which is clearly indicated by his multiple accents of the word “ think ” and the fact that he sets it off on its ain.
Eliot repeats this form in another bit of duologue, in which he emphasizes the words “ noise, ” “ air current, ” and “ nil. ” He sets off “ nil ” in its ain one-word sentence like “ think, ” although as a inquiry: “ Nothing? ” The air current and the noise evoke an image of activity and life, but the concluding “ nil ” once more underscores the deficiency of significance that Eliot is seeking to convey. Following this transition, Eliot includes a transition that talks about retrieving the “ pearls that were his eyes, ” which refers back to the dead Phoenician crewman from the first subdivision. Finally, in the last transition that refers to the affluent adult female and her lover, Eliot has them speaking to each other, inquiring what they should make. Ultimately they decide “ we shall play a game of cheat, / Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon / the door. ” While this game of cheat refers back to the sexual game from Middleton ‘s drama, the rich twosome literally play a game of cheat, since their relationship is unfertile.
The following transition switches relationships, from the idle rich to the soil hapless. This scene, which continues until the terminal of the subdivision, concerns “ Lil ” and her hubby “ Albert, ” who has merely been “ demobbed, ” or released from the armed forces. The line “ HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ” is a mention to the last call at the saloon, or saloon, and indicates that they must travel rapidly if they wish to imbibe. The poem negotiations about Albert, who has “ been in the ground forces four old ages ” and who “ wants a good clip. ” In other words he wants to hold sex with his married woman. He has besides given his married woman money to purchase “ new dentition, ” because he can non stand looking at her bad dentition. And, as Lil is warned, if she does non give Albert a good clip, “ there ‘s others will. ” The line “ HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ” is used once more, reenforcing the importance of intoxicant in the relationship. The adult female ‘s visual aspect is described as “ old-timer, ” even though she is merely 31, and she attributes this to “ them pills I took, to convey it off, ” a mention to abortion. As the following line notes of her old kids, “ She ‘s had five already, ” a testament to Albert ‘s huge sexual appetency, which is discussed farther when Eliot says Albert will non go forth the adult female entirely. But Lil is asked, “ What you get married for if you do n’t desire kids? ” This line refers back to the birthrate yarn in the verse form and the fact that modern sex is non ever about reproduction. The subdivision ends with several more mentions to “ HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME, ” demoing that imbibing has taken on more importance in the relationship than anything else. So, as with the first subdivision, Eliot is demoing the loss of intending – in this instance during sex, and through images of loveless sex – by demoing that this is true for both the rich and the hapless. Just as the male monarch from Weston ‘s book is wounded sexually, so is all of human society. It has lost the verve and generative focal point of sex, and alternatively sex is a nonmeaningful – and in the instance of abortion, fruit-less – act.
Iii. the Fire Sermon
The 3rd subdivision besides addresses sex. The rubric refers to one of Buddha ‘s instructions about desire and the demand to deny one ‘s lubricious inclinations. The images with which Eliot chooses to open this subdivision underscore this thought of lovelessness. For illustration, “ the last fingers of foliage / Clutch and drop into the wet bank. ” The deceasing flora is a mark of the decease of birthrate, as is the brown land and “ The nymphs ” who have departed. Besides the fact that the river bears no litter, such as “ empty bottles, ” “ Silk hankie, ” or “ coffin nail ends, ” all of which are a “ testimony of summer darks ” – in other words, marks of a strident party – the image of motionlessness is enhanced. There is no vernal passion any longer. This feeling of desperation is noted farther through such phrases as “ A rat crept quietly through the flora / Draging its slimy belly on the bank. ” From here on, Eliot includes images and mentions to sex and decease, including speaking about “ my male parent ‘s decease ” and “ White organic structures naked on the low moistness land. ”
After a brief, four-line stanza in which he one time once more invokes the colza of Philomel, Eliot returns to the “ Unreal City, ” the modern metropolis, where he is propositioned by a “ Mr. Eugenides ” to hold “ luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel / Followed by a weekend at the Metropole. ” These two locations, celebrated for cloak-and-dagger meetings, indicate that Mr. Eugenides wants to hold a homosexual matter with the poet.
Following this interlude, Eliot introduces the character of Tiresias, a fabulous, prophetic figure who was turned into a hermaphroditic – indicated by the phrases “ throbbing between two / lives ” and “ Old adult male with wrinkly female chests. ” The fact that Tiresias is a prophesier is of import, since Tiresias can see the true nature of things. In Eliot ‘s notes he calls this character the most of import one in the verse form. Tiresias witnesses a sex scene between a “ typist place at afternoon tea ” and “ A little house agent ‘s clerk. ” The adult female prepares nutrient until the adult male arrives, and they eat. After the repast, “ she is bored and tired, ” but he however starts to “ prosecute her in caresses. ” Although these progresss are “ unsought, ” the adult female makes no effort to halt the adult male, so “ he assaults at one time, ” unmindful to the adult female ‘s “ indifference. ” After the adult male leaves, “ She turns and looks a minute in the glass / Hardly aware of her bygone lover, ” her merely thought being, “ Well now that ‘s done: and I ‘m glad it ‘s over. ”
At this point Eliot includes a long collage of scenes from London interspersed with many literary mentions to failed relationships through the ages. The indented transition that begins with the line “ The river workout suits ” invokes a Wagner verse form that describes the ruin of ancient Gods. The subdivision concludes with a citation from St. Augustine ‘s Confessions: “ O Lord Thou pluckest me out / O Lord Thou pluckest. ” St. Augustine was a celebrated satyr in the yearss before he embraced faith. This transition is placed straight before the last line of the subdivision, “ combustion. ” This one-word line refers to the Buddhist discourse that gives the subdivision its rubric, and which encourages work forces to put out the fires of lecherousness.
Iv. Death by Water
The brief 4th subdivision, the shortest of the five, starts off with a mention to “ Phlebas the Phoenician, ” the dead crewman who was foremost mentioned in the 2nd subdivision. Eliot is once more concentrating on decease, and in this subdivision he gives a thorough description of the crewman ‘s organic structure being lacerate apart by the sea: “ A current under sea / Picked his castanetss in susurrations. ” The subdivision ends with an reference and warning to the reader to “ See Phlebas, who was one time fine-looking and tall / as you. ”
V. What the Boom Said
The verse form ‘s concluding subdivision physiques on the images of decease and asepsis, but efforts to offer hope that these can be overcome, as they are overcome in the waste land of Weston ‘s book. The rubric of the subdivision is derived from an Indian birthrate fable in which all existences – work forces, Gods, and devils – happen the power to reconstruct life to the waste land by listening to what the boom says. The subdivision begins with a long treatment of Jesus Christ, “ He who was populating is now dead, ” which leads into scenes from Christ ‘s journey to Emmaus following his Resurrection, where he joins two adherents that do non acknowledge him: “ Who is the 3rd who walks ever beside you? ” one adherent asks the other.
Following the images of Christ, Eliot alludes to scenes of conflict, “ hooded hosts teeming / Over eternal fields, faltering in chapped Earth. ” The dry Earth refers back to the waste land. Eliot includes more images of war and devastation, observing the “ Cracks and reforms and explosions in the violet air / Falling towers. ” The image is one of a palace being destroyed, and Eliot follows this image with a list of historical metropoliss that were destroyed or that fell into ruin and decay: “ Jerusalem Athens Alexandria / Vienna London. ” By including London at the terminal of this list, Eliot implies that the modern metropolis is besides falling into decay, a moral decay. From this description Eliot moves on to discourse “ the empty chapel, ” a mention to the Chapel Perilous, which Weston ‘s book describes as the concluding phase on the hero ‘s quest to reconstruct life to the waste land. At this point, “ a moistness blast ” brings rain to the dry and chapped land, and so the boom speaks, “ DA. ” Harmonizing to the Indian fable, work forces, Gods, and Satans inquire the boom the same inquiry, and each is given a different reply – spring, sympathise, and control, severally. After each response, Eliot includes several lines that respond to the boom on these subjects. Critics disagree on whether these responses are meant to be pessimistic or optimistic, but many feel they are Eliot ‘s solution to reconstruct life to the modern waste land.
In the last stanza of the verse form, the Fisher King from Weston ‘s book speaks: “ I sat upon the shore / Fishing, with the arid field behind me / Shall I at least put my lands in order? ” The male monarch wonders what the solution is, how he can convey life back to the waste land once more. Eliot follows this transition with a line from an English baby’s room rime: “ London Bridge is falling down falling down falling / down. ” These words take the work from the fabulous universe back to Europe, which besides in Eliot ‘s position is a waste land that is falling down. The verse form ends with several phrases from different linguistic communications, which give a assorted message. Some discuss metempsychosis, while others discuss force and decease. The concluding line consists of the same words repeated three times, “ Shantih shantih shantih, ” which Eliot and others have noted can slackly be translated as the peace which passes apprehension, and which seems to be Eliot ‘s concluding dictum – merely through peace will humanity finally be able to reconstruct its verve.