Eliot quotes from Act V, Scene IV of The White Devil, a 17th century revenge tragedy by John Webster. The speaker is Cornelia, whose son Marcello is refused a proper burial because he died in a quarrel:
In his note to the title, Eliot mentions that much of the imagery in his poem is drawn from pagan vegetation ceremonies. Here is one such image: a burial outside the confines of a churchyard, where the body is covered only by leaves and flowers and left vulnerable to the predation of wild animals. Eliot inverts this last feature of the image, replacing the wolf in the original passage with a dog, swapping an adversarial, wild animal for a friendly, domestic one.
Eliot returns to The White Devil in Part V of The Waste Land. Read more in the note to line 407.