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

Lines 46-55:

With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.

Eliot's Note:

46. I am not familiar with the exact constitution of the Tarot pack of cards, from which I have obviously departed to suit my own convenience. The Hanged Man, a member of the traditional pack, fits my purpose in two ways: because he is associated in my mind with the Hanged God of Frazer, and because I associate him with the hooded figure in the passage of the disciples to Emmaus in Part V. The Phoenician Sailor and the Merchant appear later; also the “crowds of people,” and Death by Water is executed in Part IV. The Man with Three Staves (an authentic member of the Tarot pack) I associate, quite arbitrarily, with the Fisher King himself.

Context:

Eliot's note refers to Frazer's The Golden Bough. Eliot also mentions the Fisher King, a figure from the legend of the Holy Grail who figures prominently in Weston's From Ritual to Romance and The Waste Land. Read about the Fisher King in the note to the title.

Location:

Phoenicia was an ancient maritime empire centered at Tyre.


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