What type of poem is The Waste Land?
The Waste Land is an epic poem. Broken into five main parts with 434 lines, The Waste Land is one seriously long poem. Epic poems are generally lengthy narrative poems, and Eliot's poem could certainly be classified as such, even though the poem itself does not follow any sort of defined story line.
Although Eliot's poem does deal with themes of death, dying, and destruction, The Waste Land itself could not ever really be considered an epitaph simply for the reason of its length; an epitaph is a short phrase or quotation that pays tribute to or honors a dead person. Another reason why The Waste Land is not an epitaph is because the poem does not really honor anyone or any group; Eliot's poem addresses death and loss, but does not really seek to single out any one individual or group to recognize.
According to The Modernism Lab at Yale University, Ezra Pound "defined an epic as a “poem including history" (Lewis). The Waste Land definitely contains both modern and ancient history, as well as a heaping helping of mythology to boot. So The Waste Land could be considered an epic poem for that reason alone.
Lewis, Pericles. "The Waste Land." Modernism Lab. Yale. web. 1 Sep. 2012.
hello, the link that you give above makes 'the Waste Land' both an 'epic' and a 'lyric' poem -- the trouble with facile labels you see, in cases such as this.
I think 'The Waste Land' has some of the features of the classical epic poem but isnt necessarily one, it is too easy to label a complex poem like it in such terms but that's not really doing a service to students. Thanks.
An 'epitaph' is a funeral oration or poem, and TS Eliot's ''The Waste Land'' (1922) is certainly not just an epitaph; and it is indeed too complex a 'modern' poem to be labeled wih facile titles.