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The Waste Land

The Waste Land is a poem by T.S. Eliot, widely regarded as one of the most important English language poems of the 20th century and a central work of modernist poetry. Published in 1922, the 434-line poem first appeared in the United Kingdom in the October issue of The Criterion and in the United States in the November issue of The Dial.

The Waste Land 1922

Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Σίβνλλα τί ϴέλεις; respondebat illa: άπο ϴανεΐν ϴέλω.

For Ezra Pound

il miglior fabbro.

Excavator at construction site

Ⅰ. The Burial of the Dead

  1. April is the cruellest month, breeding
  2. Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
  3. Memory and desire, stirring
  4. Dull roots with spring rain.
  5. Winter kept us warm, covering
  6. Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
  7. A little life with dried tubers.
  8. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
  9. With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
  10. And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
  11. And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
  12. Bin gar kine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
  13. And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
  14. My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
  15. And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
  16. Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
  17. In the mountains, there you feel free.
  18. I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
  1. What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
  2. Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
  3. You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
  4. A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
  5. And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
  6. And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
  7. There is shadow under this red rock,
  8. (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
  9. And I will show you something different from either
  10. Your shadow at morning striding behind you
  11. Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
  12. I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
  13.          Frisch weht der Wind
  14.          Der Heimat zu,
  15.          Mein Irisch Kind,
  16.          Wo weilest du?
  17. “You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
  18. “They called me the hyacinth girl.”
  19. — Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
  20. Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
  21. Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
  22. Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
  23. Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
  24. Oed' und leer das Meer.
  1. Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
  2. Had a bad cold, nevertheless
  3. Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
  4. With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
  5. Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
  6. (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
  7. Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
  8. The lady of situations.
  9. Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
  10. And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card
  11. Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
  12. Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
  13. The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
  14. I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
  15. Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
  16. Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
  17. One must be so careful these days.
  1. Unreal City,
  2. Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
  3. A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
  4. I had not thought death had undone so many.
  5. Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
  6. And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
  7. Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
  8. To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
  9. With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
  10. There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: “Stetson!
  11. “You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
  12. “That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
  13. “Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
  14. “Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
  15. “Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,
  16. “Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
  17. “You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable—mon frère!”
Cement factory

Ⅱ. A Game of Chess

  1. The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,
  2. Glowed on the marble, where the glass
  3. Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines
  4. From which a golden Cupidon peeped out
  5. (Another hid his eyes behind his wing)
  6. Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra
  7. Reflecting light upon the table as
  8. The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it,
  9. From satin cases poured in rich profusion;
  10. In vials of ivory and coloured glass
  11. Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
  12. Unguent, powdered, or liquid—troubled, confused
  13. And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air
  14. That freshened from the window, these ascended
  15. In fattening the prolonged candle—flames,
  16. Flung their smoke into the laquearia,
  17. Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling.
  18. Huge sea-wood fed with copper
  19. Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,
  20. In which sad light a carvéd dolphin swam.
  21. Above the antique mantel was displayed
  22. As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
  23. The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
  24. So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale
  25. Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
  26. And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
  27. “Jug Jug” to dirty ears.
  28. And other withered stumps of time
  29. Were told upon the walls; staring forms
  30. Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.
  31. Footsteps shuffled on the stair.
  32. Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
  33. Spread out in fiery points
  34. Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.
  1. “My nerves are bad tonight. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
  2.          “Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.
  3.          “What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
  4. “I never know what you are thinking. Think.”
  1. I think we are in rats' alley
  2. Where the dead men lost their bones.
  1. “What is that noise?”
  2. The wind under the door.
  3. “What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?”
  4. Nothing again nothing.
  5. “Do
  6. “You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
  7. “Nothing?”
  1.          I remember
  2. Those are pearls that were his eyes.
  3. “Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?”
  4. But
  1. O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—
  2. It's so elegant
  3. So intelligent
  4. “What shall I do now? What shall I do?”
  5. “I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
  6. “With my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow?
  7. “What shall we ever do?”
  8. The hot water at ten.
  9. And if it rains, a closed car at four.
  10. And we shall play a game of chess,
  11. Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.
  1. When Lil's husband got demobbed, I said—
  2. I didn't mince my words, I said to her myself,
  4. Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
  5. He'll want to know what you done with that money he gave you
  6. To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there.
  7. You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,
  8. He said, I swear, I can't bear to look at you.
  9. And no more can't I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
  10. He's been in the army four years, he wants a good time,
  11. And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said.
  12. Oh is there, she said. Something o' that, I said.
  13. Then I'll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look.
  15. If you don't like it you can get on with it, I said.
  16. Others can pick and choose if you can't.
  17. But if Albert makes off, it won't be for lack of telling.
  18. You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
  19. (And her only thirty-one.)
  20. I can't help it, she said, pulling a long face,
  21. It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
  22. (She's had five already, and nearly died of young George.)
  23. The chemist said it would be all right, but I've never been the same.
  24. You are a proper fool, I said.
  25. Well, if Albert won't leave you alone, there it is, I said,
  26. What you get married for if you don't want children?
  28. Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,
  29. And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot—
  32. Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.
  33. Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
  34. Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.
Line of parked trucks against a fiery sunset

Ⅲ. The Fire Sermon

  1. The river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
  2. Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
  3. Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
  4. Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
  5. The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
  6. Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
  7. Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
  8. And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors;
  9. Departed, have left no addresses.
  10. By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept …
  11. Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
  12. Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
  13. But at my back in a cold blast I hear
  14. The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.
  1. A rat crept softly through the vegetation
  2. Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
  3. While I was fishing in the dull canal
  4. On a winter evening round behind the gashouse
  5. Musing upon the king my brother's wreck
  6. And on the king my father's death before him.
  7. White bodies naked on the low damp ground
  8. And bones cast in a little low dry garret,
  9. Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year.
  10. But at my back from time to time I hear
  11. The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring
  12. Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring.
  13. O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter
  14. And on her daughter
  15. They wash their feet in soda water
  16. Et O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la coupole!
  1. Twit twit twit
  2. Jug jug jug jug jug jug
  3. So rudely forc'd.
  4. Tereu
  1. Unreal City
  2. Under the brown fog of a winter noon
  3. Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
  4. Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants
  5. C.i.f. London: documents at sight,
  6. Asked me in demotic French
  7. To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel
  8. Followed by a weekend at the Metropole.
  1. At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
  2. Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
  3. Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
  4. I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
  5. Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
  6. At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
  7. Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
  8. The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
  9. Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
  10. Out of the window perilously spread
  11. Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
  12. On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
  13. Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
  14. I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
  15. Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest—
  16. I too awaited the expected guest.
  17. He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
  18. A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
  19. One of the low on whom assurance sits
  20. As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
  21. The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
  22. The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
  23. Endeavours to engage her in caresses
  24. Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
  25. Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
  26. Exploring hands encounter no defence;
  27. His vanity requires no response,
  28. And makes a welcome of indifference.
  29. (And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
  30. Enacted on this same divan or bed;
  31. I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
  32. And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
  33. Bestows one final patronising kiss,
  34. And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit …
  1. She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
  2. Hardly aware of her departed lover;
  3. Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
  4. “Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.”
  5. When lovely woman stoops to folly and
  6. Paces about her room again, alone,
  7. She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
  8. And puts a record on the gramophone.
  1. “This music crept by me upon the waters”
  2. And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
  3. O City city, I can sometimes hear
  4. Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
  5. The pleasant whining of a mandoline
  6. And a clatter and a chatter from within
  7. Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
  8. Of Magnus Martyr hold
  9. Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.
  1.          The river sweats
  2.          Oil and tar
  3.          The barges drift
  4.          With the turning tide
  5.          Red sails
  6.          Wide
  7.          To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.
  8.          The barges wash
  9.          Drifting logs
  10.          Down Greenwich reach
  11.          Past the Isle of Dogs.
  12.                  Weialala leia
  13.                  Wallala leialala
  1.          Elizabeth and Leicester
  2.          Beating oars
  3.          The stern was formed
  4.          A gilded shell
  5.          Red and gold
  6.          The brisk swell
  7.          Rippled both shores
  8.          Southwest wind
  9.          Carried down stream
  10.          The peal of bells
  11.          White towers
  12.                  Weialala leia
  13.                  Wallala leialala
  1. “Trams and dusty trees.
  2. Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew
  3. Undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees
  4. Supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.”
  1. “My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart
  2. Under my feet. After the event
  3. He wept. He promised a ‘new start.’
  4. I made no comment. What should I resent?”
  1. “On Margate Sands.
  2. I can connect
  3. Nothing with nothing.
  4. The broken fingernails of dirty hands.
  5. My people humble people who expect
  6. Nothing.”
  7.                  la la
  1. To Carthage then I came
  1. Burning burning burning burning
  2. O Lord Thou pluckest me out
  3. O Lord Thou pluckest
  1. burning
A fallen tree in a lake

Ⅳ. Death by Water

  1. Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
  2. Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
  3. And the profit and loss.
  4. A current under sea
  5. Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
  6. He passed the stages of his age and youth
  7. Entering the whirlpool.
  8. Gentile or Jew
  9. O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
  10. Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.
Cloudy night highway

Ⅴ. What the Thunder Said

  1. After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
  2. After the frosty silence in the gardens
  3. After the agony in stony places
  4. The shouting and the crying
  5. Prison and palace and reverberation
  6. Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
  7. He who was living is now dead
  8. We who were living are now dying
  9. With a little patience
  1. Here is no water but only rock
  2. Rock and no water and the sandy road
  3. The road winding above among the mountains
  4. Which are mountains of rock without water
  5. If there were water we should stop and drink
  6. Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
  7. Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
  8. If there were only water amongst the rock
  9. Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
  10. Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
  11. There is not even silence in the mountains
  12. But dry sterile thunder without rain
  13. There is not even solitude in the mountains
  14. But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
  15. From doors of mudcracked houses
  16. If there were water
  1.          And no rock
  2.          If there were rock
  3.          And also water
  4.          And water
  5.          A spring
  6.          A pool among the rock
  7.          If there were the sound of water only
  8.          Not the cicada
  9.          And dry grass singing
  10.          But sound of water over a rock
  11.          Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
  12.          Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
  13.          But there is no water
  1. Who is the third who walks always beside you?
  2. When I count, there are only you and I together
  3. But when I look ahead up the white road
  4. There is always another one walking beside you
  5. Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
  6. I do not know whether a man or a woman
  7. —But who is that on the other side of you?
  1. What is that sound high in the air
  2. Murmur of maternal lamentation
  3. Who are those hooded hordes swarming
  4. Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
  5. Ringed by the flat horizon only
  6. What is the city over the mountains
  7. Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
  8. Falling towers
  9. Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
  10. Vienna London
  11. Unreal
  1. A woman drew her long black hair out tight
  2. And fiddled whisper music on those strings
  3. And bats with baby faces in the violet light
  4. Whistled, and beat their wings
  5. And crawled head downward down a blackened wall
  6. And upside down in air were towers
  7. Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
  8. And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.
  1. In this decayed hole among the mountains
  2. In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
  3. Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
  4. There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
  5. It has no windows, and the door swings,
  6. Dry bones can harm no one.
  7. Only a cock stood on the rooftree
  8. Co co rico co co rico
  9. In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
  10. Bringing rain
  1. Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
  2. Waited for rain, while the black clouds
  3. Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
  4. The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
  5. Then spoke the thunder
  6. DA
  7. Datta: what have we given?
  8. My friend, blood shaking my heart
  9. The awful daring of a moment's surrender
  10. Which an age of prudence can never retract
  11. By this, and this only, we have existed
  12. Which is not to be found in our obituaries
  13. Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
  14. Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
  15. In our empty rooms
  16. DA
  17. Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
  18. Turn in the door once and turn once only
  19. We think of the key, each in his prison
  20. Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
  21. Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours
  22. Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus
  23. DA
  24. Damyata: The boat responded
  25. Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar
  26. The sea was calm, your heart would have responded
  27. Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
  28. To controlling hands
  1. I sat upon the shore
  2. Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
  3. Shall I at least set my lands in order?
  4. London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down
  5. Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affinae
  6. Quando fiam uti chelidone—O swallow swallow
  7. Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie
  8. These fragments I have shored against my ruins
  9. Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.
  10. Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
  11.                  Shantih        shantih        shantih


I am a web developer based in New York. This is my personal corner on the internet, which is currently just a playground for side projects and miscellaneous stuff. For information about my so-called professional background, check out my résumé.

Sitting with my dog Sawyer on the couch

The following paragraph was auto-completed by GitHub Copilot when I set out to write this section. It contains some true things (such as my dog's name (how it know? 🤯) and the part about taking long walks, ok and the part about the outdoors…and the part about the indoors…), but really it's also essentially bullshit. 💩

When I am not working, I enjoy reading, writing, and playing video games. I also like to take long walks with my dog, Sawyer. I am a big fan of the outdoors and love to go hiking and camping. I am also a big fan of the indoors and love to stay in and watch movies and TV shows.

—GitHub Copilot
Waterfront view from Greenpoint with Sawyer in the foreground

Residing in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.