What type of poem is The Waste Land?

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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.

 

Work Cited:

Lewis, Pericles. "The Waste Land." Modernism Lab. Yale. web. 1 Sep. 2012.

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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.

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