Modern Poetry 306
The Waste Land
Elliot’s Wasteland is full of lines that take you from place to place mentally.
Lines like Winter kept us warm cause you to go between norms and oddities. When a word cues your senses into a normal place he uses another word to displace you. The poem overall shifts between time and space going from talking of having a cup of coffee to being in the mountains .The question I was left with was how or why the reader is asked to be in that place. Modernist poets often do this, I believe, to detach one from what they feel is a programmed response to the written word. This is to achieve the goal of not guiding the reader in what the response should be but allowing a gray area of neutrality just to feel what the language allows you to. The most compelling part of their work is its sub commentary on Elliot’s feeling about the state of man and art.
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this story rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats
His foretelling of the decline of art and what may be his opinion on the state of humanity is fascinating. Wasteland is demanding of the reader but has some fascinating implications and defines Eliot as superior and in some ways , prophetic as a poet.