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

Lines 187-192:

A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
While I was fishing in the dull canal
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse
Musing upon the king my brother's wreck
And on the king my father's death before him.

Eliot's Note:

192. Cf. The Tempest, I, ii.

Context:

Eliot returns to Ferdinand and The Tempest, introduced in line 48:

Ferdinand
Where should this music be? i' the air or the earth?
It sounds no more: and sure, it waits upon
Some god o' the island. Sitting on a bank,
Weeping again the king my father's wreck,
This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air: thence I have follow'd it,
Or it hath drawn me rather. But 'tis gone.
No, it begins again.

The quoted passage immediately precedes Ariel's song (see the note to line 48). Introduced in the same stroke is the Fisher King, a character from the Grail legend who figures prominently in Eliot's notes on the poem. For Eliot's (brief) explanation of the relationship between Ferdinand and the Fisher King, see the note to line 218.