Title: "The Waste Land"
Author: T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
First Published: 1922
My Edition: Harcourt (Seen at left)
Pages: The full book is 88 pages, however, the poem is about 25 pages in length.
Other Poems Include: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915), "Gerontin" (1920), "The Hollow Men" (1922), "Ash Wednesday" (1930), "Four Quartets" (1945)
Plays Include: The Rock (1934), Murder in the Cathedral (1935), The Family Reunion (1939), and The Cocktail Party (1949)
I am a huge poetry fan. And while I don't read it as much as I probably should, I do read more than the average Joe. There is something very relaxing and comforting about a poem.
This is the one solitary poem that made my list. I took off quite a few others, including Eliot's other masterpiece "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in an attempt to rein in my list, but this one had to stay, only because I had never read it. Seems silly, doesn't it? All the other poems were removed, but this little title stayed through a bunch of cuts and edits to be in the final 250.
And while I know it is not a "book" it stills counts as one title off my list.
At only 25 pages, and a poem, this was a quick and easy read for the purposes of the read-a-thon. I will have to remember to read some poetry in the next read-a-thons if I ever get the chance.
The poem is structured into five sections: The Burial of the Dead, A Game of Chess, The Fire Sermon, Death by Water, and What the Thunder Said. Each section has its tone, voice, and mood. The narrator switches and gives the poem a very melancholy feel.
To be honest, this is a hard poem to describe, especially that I read it in one sitting and haven't had a great deal of time to digest all of the little nuances that come into play with poetry. But, speaking as someone who has read it for the first time I will say this: it captures a lot of the desolation and pain that was felt after The Great War (WWI). Some of the scenes Eliot described seemed to be of empty battlefields and rebuilding.
As I have not lived through a great war, or had personal destruction come down around me, I cannot really relate to the struggle of that kind of pain-of seeing the world crumbling and life disappear. But Eliot captured it for me in his words, so I could feel a glimpse.
I loved his language. Everything was vivid and alive in the way that only poetry can be. Here is the beginning to show what I mean:
I wish I knew more about Eliot so I could understand the deeper meanings of this poem. But he is not a poet I am familiar with. I think to truly understand poetry, you just read and reread it, immerse yourself in the knowledge of the poet, and just let it sink in. I haven't the opportunity to do that now, but I know I will be returning to Eliot eventually, to read more and learn more about the man who wrote such a chilling poem.