Eliot and Pound (3/8)

I have no idea what The Waste Land means at this very moment and probably never will for the rest of my life. It is a dizzyingly fascinating poem, but I am limited in my abilities to understand. In terms of the piece being transatlantic, though, there is a degree of sense to me. Eliot writes that, "No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone" (115). I found it in the Essays and London letters section of Norton Edition of The Waste Land. T.S. Eliot is no exception to his statement; his letters and communication with people he knew and their feedback create an amalgamation of ideas. While the background on Eliot, and the quotes from Ezra Pound, state that Eliot created this poem entirely on his own and that the suggestions only provided a ground from which Eliot could begin to build his monster (although, he clearly outdid Victor Frankenstein because it is quite fascinating).

"The Burial of the Dead" was the most interesting section for me with its bizarre connection of death with natural images. It kind of brought me back to the poem "Grass" without the apocalyptic and sentient earth. The section begins with this immage of these "Lilacs out of the dead land" growing (l. 2). Lilacs are such a vibrant, happy plant that tend to symbolize innocence, purity, youthfulness, etc. Such a brilliant plant being bred from such a dark ground is ironic, but not really hopeful as would be expected from most works. My favorite lines, though, "That corpse you planted last year in your garden, / Has it begun to sprout?" are really confusing (ll. 71-72). It harkens back to those first lines of the section, and the idea that we often bury "dead" remains of plants hoping they will transform into something new. If I am honest, I am still not sure what they mean, but I like the way the are both alarming yet hopeful.


I like how your post is looking to find the ecological patterns in our course readings. I don't know what to do with them either, but there is something there (I would throw in the parallels between the Eliot's scuttling rat and Rosenberg's). As for your favorite line, the book I'm reading from has an annotation that connects that to WWI burial/memorial gardens. There is a historical reference there to connect with your reading of that section as a universal statement on death, growth/rebirth, and the progression of time.