THE
WASTE
LAND
::
T. S.
ELIOT
POEM MAP ENDNOTES SOURCES ABOUT

The Waste Land

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T. S. Eliot
1922

I. The Burial of the Dead

 

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
10
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
There is shadow under this red rock,
25
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago,
35
“They called me the hyacinth girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
40
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
45
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying, “Stetson!
“You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
70
“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?

II. A Game of Chess

 
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out
80
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing)
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra
Reflecting light upon the table as
The glitter of the her jewels rose to meet it,
From satin cases poured in rich profusion;
85
Huge sea-wood fed with copper
Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,
95
In which sad light a carvèd dolphin swam.
Above the antique mantel was displayed
And other withered stumps of time
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
105
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.
Footsteps shuffled on the stair.
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.

110

“My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.

“Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.
“What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
“I never know what you are thinking. Think.”

“What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?”

Nothing again nothing.

120

“Do

“You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
“Nothing?”

But

“What shall I do now? What shall I do?”

“I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
“With my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow?
“What shall we ever do?”

When Lil's husband got demobbed, I said—

I didn't mince my words, I said to her myself,
140
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. He did, I was there.
You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,
145
He said, I swear, I can't bear to look at you.
And no more can't I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
He's been in the army four years, he wants a good time,
And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said.
Oh is there, she said. Something o' that, I said.
150
Then I'll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look.
Hurry up please its time
If you don't like it you can get on with it, I said.
Others can pick and choose if you can't.
But if Albert makes off, it won't be for lack of telling.
155
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
(And her only thirty-one.)
I can't help it, she said, pulling a long face,
It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
(She's had five already, and nearly died of young George.)
160
The chemist said it would be all right, but I've never been the same.
You are a proper fool, I said.
Well, if Albert won't leave you alone, there it is, I said,
What you get married for if you don't want children?
Hurry up please its time
165
Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,
And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot—
Hurry up please its time
Hurry up please its time
Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.
170
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.

III. The Fire Sermon

The river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf

Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
175
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors;
180
Departed, have left no addresses.
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept...
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
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.
195

Twit twit twit

Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc'd.
205
Tereu

Unreal City

Under the brown fog of a winter noon
Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
Asked me in demotic French
To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel
Followed by a weekend at the Metropole.

At the violet hour, when the eyes and back

215
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
225
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I, Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest—
I too awaited the expected guest.
230
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
235
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defense;
240
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
245
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows one final patronising kiss,
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit...

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,

Hardly aware of her departed lover;
250
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
“Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.”
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
O City, City, I can sometimes hear
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
260
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
And a clatter and a chatter from within
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
Inexplicable splendor of Ionian white and gold.

265
Oil and tar
The barges drift
With the turning tide
Red sails
270
Wide
To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.
The barges wash
Drifting log
Down Greenwich reach
275
Past the Isle of Dogs.

Weialala leia

Wallala leialala

Beating oars
280
The stern was formed
A gilded shell
Red and gold
The brisk swell
Rippled both shores
285
Southwest wind
Carried down stream
The peal of bells
White towers

Weialala leia

290
Wallala leialala

“Trams and dusty trees.

Supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.”

295

“My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart

Under my feet. After the event
He wept. He promised ‘a new start.’
I made no comment. What should I resent?”
“On Margate Sands.
300
I can connect
Nothing with nothing.
The broken fingernails of dirty hands.
My people humble who expect
Nothing.”
305

la la

burning

IV. Death by Water

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,

Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.

A current under sea

315
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.

Gentile or Jew

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
320
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

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
325
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was now living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

330

Here is no water but only rock

Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
335
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
340
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses

345

If there were water
And no rock

If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
350
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
355
Vienna London
375

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
380
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.

Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico co co rico
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain

Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves

395
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
400
My friend, blood shaking my heart,
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
405
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Da
410
Da
Damyata: The boat responded
Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded
420
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
To controlling hands

London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down

These fragments I have shored against my ruins
430
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.