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Thread: 100 Year of The Wasteland

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    100 Year of The Wasteland

    T.S.Eliot's modernist classic "The Wasteland" was published in 1922, and celebrates its centenary this year. That same year the Ulysses was published by Sylvia Beach in Paris.

    Both are tricky, allusive, and sometimes incomprehensible. Both are also masterpieces. We all know the famous opening of The Wasteland

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

    The poem adumbrates the great crisis of our own era, as our beloved Earth turns into a wasteland due to climate change. We live in a world, "where the sun beats / And the dead trees give no shelter." There is "dry sterile thunder without rain."

    Whatever one may think of the difficulty inherent in reading The Wasteland, nobody with a taste for poetry can deny the resonance of these lines.

    The poem is divided into five sections: The Burial of the Dead; A Game of Chess; The Fire Sermon; Death by 'Water; and What the Thunder Said.

    What did the thunder say? Feast your eyes and ears on this brilliant stanza:

    "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 addition to being one of the greatest 20th century poets, Eliot was a seminal critic, and wrote lengthy explanations and notes about "The Wasteland". I confess that I've never read them. I have read the poem,and reread it again today in honor of its Centenary. Here's a link to the entire poem:

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/ ... waste-land

    Modernism seemed to reject the heroic and epic. It also rejected the realist novels of the 19th century. Or did it? Didn't Ulysses transform the heroic and supernatural Odyssey into the mundane? But didn't Joyce also point out the heroic that resides in the mundane. In the words of Joyce's Penelope figure Molly Bloom, "yes I said yes I will Yes."

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    Registered User tailor STATELY's Avatar
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    Very interesting. My poetry education is far from complete. I will attempt to read the poem and the critical analyses that are now easily available to us. My first foray on the reading the poem was getting to "FOR EZRA POUND / IL MIGLIOR FABBRO" which lead me to this:
    In February 1922, Ezra Pound wrote a letter to New York lawyer and patron of the arts John Quinn reporting that “Eliot came back from his Lausanne specialist looking OK; and with a damn good poem (19 pages) in his suitcase; same finished up here [Paris]; …About enough, Eliot’s poem, to make the rest of us shut up shop” (Valerie Eliot xxii).
    ... continues: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10...781137482846_6

    I think I will continue in this line of inquiry and thought before I delve further.

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
    tailor
    tailor

    who am I but a stitch in time
    what if I were to bare my soul
    would you see me origami

    7-8-2015

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    Registered User tailor STATELY's Avatar
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    OK. Read the intro in Shmoop.com https://www.shmoop.com/study-guides/...the-waste-land and already feeling overwhelmed: calm down tailor; breathe/breathe. Don't know why the trepidation, I knew/know nothing about this poem, not even a wit... so why the angst ? Dunno. (Haven't even read one line yet !).

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
    tailor
    tailor

    who am I but a stitch in time
    what if I were to bare my soul
    would you see me origami

    7-8-2015

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    Registered User tailor STATELY's Avatar
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    "Veni, vidi, vici" -

    Only touching on the Shmoop helps I dived in thus:

    I read The Wasteland here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poe...the-waste-land

    while listening to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqvhMeZ2PlY

    ... then realized I needed some translation for some bits in another tab:

    • German/French/Italian/Latin to English - https://translate.google.com/?sl=fr&...;&op=translate

    ... and with google at my beck and call in another tab: https://www.google.com/search?client...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

    ... then as a dog seeing a squirrel I dove down a rabbit hole (mixing my metaphors) diverted to a music video brought to mind... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnBSc28Obs4

    But I digress.

    Some more translation: Italian, Latin, French... DA DA DA... shantih, shantih, shantih (Hinduism a Sanskrit word meaning peace or inner peace prayed at the end of an Upanishad. - https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Sh...an%20Upanishad )

    - the end.

    Enjoyed hearing much of the poem in Eliot's sonorous voice... the female voices were unexpected but may help in subsequent study in parts.

    Quite dense. Much to take in. Enjoyed at the level which I now understand... but need to delve further.

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
    tailor
    tailor

    who am I but a stitch in time
    what if I were to bare my soul
    would you see me origami

    7-8-2015

  5. #5
    Registered User tailor STATELY's Avatar
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    A lecture to help explain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JO8rEIddgrI

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
    tailor
    Last edited by tailor STATELY; 10-08-2022 at 03:54 AM.
    tailor

    who am I but a stitch in time
    what if I were to bare my soul
    would you see me origami

    7-8-2015

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