cadetteacher | Student

Eliot writes his poem through a series of vignettes, which depict the social and personal decay and despair of post-World War I Western culture. 

Eliot is considered one of the most daring innovators of twentieth-century poetry and as such, he refuses to compromise w/public values or language (includes structure).  The focus of "The Wasteland" aims at a representation on the complexities of modern civilization, which leads to difficult poetry.

Because Eliot believed several things about current installments of English poetry he worked to overcome what he saw as structural barriers:  

  • He saw English poetry as exhausted, no verbal excitement, or original craftsmanship
  • He wanted to make poetry subtle, suggestive and precise
  • The medium is the message (you won't find Eliot in "The Wasteland" there's no personality)
  • He sought wit, allusiveness and irony and incorporated global poets to accomplish this
  • Ample use of metaphor
  • Explored the middle ground of human experience
  • Symbolism influenced imagery; image was important because of its precision and endless suggestion in its relationship to other images
  • Very interested in myths and rituals of Christianity--especially the legend of the Holy Grail
  • Reaction against nature and realism, allow fluidity
  • After a long run sans footnotes, Eliot begins to include footnotes, which should show the poem has some sort of meaning
  • Eliot elimination all connective and transitional passages; he built meaning via the immediate juxtaposition of images w/o explaining what they were doing there
  • He parceled together history, philosphy, Hindu, Buddhism, vaudeville, modern/ancient voices, high and low art, West/non-west languages; everything clashes together

 Ultimately, he's questioning and seeking a sort of spiritual peace and illustrating in his structure that we live in a world of moral decay, that the homogoneous world doesn't exist.

Probably way more than what you needed, but this is what Eliot considered when designing "The Wasteland"--all of the above components contributed to the poem's structure.

pnil10swa | Student