The Story So Far

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:17 AM

OK, so I'm going to give Mike the full 20 points on Eliot; he didn't get the title, but he did get some of the background. The quote is the beginning of “the Wasteland,” a poem made up of five smaller poems. The first poem, the one quoted, is “the Burial of the Dead.” Eliot wrote “the Wasteland” in the early twenties, in response partially to the collective societal shock and breakdown after World War I, and also his own personal nervous breakdown that brought him to Switzerland to recuperate.

Some of the other significance stems from the negative look at flowers and April. Eliot is nothing if not an allusionary poet. He is always alluding to other works, and what is a better known beginning to a poem in English literature than the beginning of Chaucer's prologue to the Canterbury Tales? While Chaucer's April is full of life budding, Eliot's reinvisioning of the world as a wasteland turns that happy image on its head.

Y'all should go read “the Wasteland.” It is worth it, just be forewarned it isn't easy, but I have confidence that my readers are up to a challenge.

Mike: 20 pts.
Jason: 5 pts.
Dave: 3 pts.

More to come.

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