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The Waste Land

1922

T.S. Eliot

I have seen with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her 'What do you want?' She answered, 'I want to die.'

For Ezra Pound
il miglior fabbro.


I. The Burial of the Dead
II. A Game of Chess
III. The Fire Sermon
IV. Death By Water
V. What the Thunder Said



I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch. 12 And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke's, My cousin's, he took me out on a sled, And I was frightened. He said, Marie, Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free. I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. 18 What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish?Son of man, 20 You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, 23 And the dry stone no sound of water. Only There is shadow under this red rock, (Come in under the shadow of this red rock), And I will show you something different from either Your shadow at morning striding behind you Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; I will show you fear in a handful of dust. 30 Frisch weht der Wind 31 Der Heimat zu Mein Irisch Kind Wo weilest du? 'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; 'They called me the hyacinth girl.' -Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth garden, Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, Looking into the heart of light, the silence. Oed' und leer das Meer. 42 Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,43 Had a bad cold, nevertheless Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe, With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, 46 Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) Here is Belladonna, The Lady of the Rocks, The lady of situations. Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel, And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card, Which is blank, is something he carries on his back, Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find The Hanged Man. Fear death by water. 55 I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring. Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone, Tell her I bring the horoscope myself: One must be so careful these days. Unreal City, 60 Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many. 63 Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, 64 And each man fixed his eyes before his feet. Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine. 68 There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: 'Stetson! 69 'You who were with me in the ships at Mylae! 'That corpse you planted last year in your garden, 'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? 'O keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men, 74 'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again! 'You! Hypocrite lecteur! - mon semblable, - mon frère!' 76 Title Page

II. A Game of Chess

The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne, 77 Glowed on the marble, where the glass Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines From which a golden Cupidon peeped out (Another hid his eyes behind his wing) Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra Reflecting light upon the table as The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it, From satin cases poured in rich profusion. In vials of ivory and coloured glass Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes, Unguent, powdered, or liquid - troubled, confused And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air That freshened from the window, these ascended In fattening the prolonged candle-flames, Flung their smoke into the laquearia, 92 Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling. Huge sea-wood fed with copper Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone, In which sad light a carvèd dolphin swam. Above the antique mantel was displayed As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene 98 The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king 99 So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale 100 Filled all the desert with inviolable voice And still she cried, and still the world pursues, 'Jug Jug' to dirty ears. And other withered stumps of time Were told upon the walls; staring forms Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed. Footsteps shuffled on the stair. Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair Spread out in fiery points Glowed into words, then would be savagely still. 'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me. 'Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak. 'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? 'I never know what you are thinking. Think.' I think we are in rats' alley 115 Where the dead men lost their bones. 'What it that noise?' The wind under the door. 118 'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?' Nothing again nothing. 'Do 'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember 'Nothing?' I remember Those are pearls that were his eyes. 'Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?' 126 But O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag - 128 It's so elegant So intelligent 'What shall I do now? What shall I do?' 'I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street 'With my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow? 'What shall we ever do?' The hot water at ten. And if it rains, a closed car at four. And we shall play a game of chess, 138 Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door. When Lil's husband got demobbed, I said - I didn't mince my words, I said to her myself, HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart. He'll want to know what you done with that money he gave you To get herself some teeth. He did, I was there. You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set, He said, I swear, I can't bear to look at you. And no more can't I, I said, and think of poor Albert, He's been in the army for four years, he wants a good time, And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said. Oh is there, she said. Something o' that, I said. Then I'll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look. HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME If you don't like it you can get on with it, I said. Others can pick and choose if you can't. But if Albert makes off, it won't be for a lack of telling. You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique. (And her only thirty-one.) I can't help it, she said, pulling a long face, It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said. (She's had five already, and nearly died of young George.) The chemist said it would be all right, but I've never been the same. You are a proper fool, I said. Well, if Albert won't leave you alone, there it is, I said, What you get married for if you don't want children? HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon, And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot - HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight. Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight. Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night. 172 Title Page

III. The Fire Sermon

The river's tent is broken; the last fingers of leaf Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed. Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song. 176 The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers, Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed. And their friends, the loitering heirs of City directors; Departed, have left no addresses. By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept ... Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song, Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long. But at my back in a cold blast I hear The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear. A rat crept softly through the vegetation Dragging its slimy belly on the bank While I was fishing in the dull canal On a winter evening round behind the gashouse Musing upon the king my brother's wreck And on the king my father's death before him. 192 White bodies naked on the low damp ground And bones cast in a little low dry garret, Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year. But at my back from time to time I hear 196 The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring 197 Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring. O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter 199 And on her daughter They wash their feet in soda water Et O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la coupole! 202 Twit twit twit Jug jug jug jug jug jug So rudely forc'd. Tereu Unreal City Under the brown fog of a winter noon Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants C.i.f. London: documents at sight, 210 Asked me in demotic French To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel Followed by a weekend at the Metropole. At the violet hour, when the eyes and back Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits Like a taxi throbbing waiting, I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives, 218 Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea, 221 The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights Her stove, and lays out food in tins. Out of the window perilously spread Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays, On the divan are piled (at night her bed) Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays. I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest - I too awaited the expected guest. He, the young man carbuncular, arrives, A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare, One of the low on whom assurance sits As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire. The time is now propitious, as he guesses, The meal is ended, she is bored and tired, Endeavours to engage her in caresses Which are still unreproved, if undesired. Flushed and decided, he assaults at once; Exploring hands encounter no defence; His vanity requires no response, And makes a welcome of indifference. (And I Tiresias have foresuffered all Enacted on this same divan or bed; I who have sat by Thebes below the wall And walked among the lowest of the dead.) Bestows one final patronising kiss, And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit... She turns and looks a moment in the glass, Hardly aware of her departed lover; Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass: 'Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.' When lovely woman stoops to folly and 253 Paces about her room again, alone, She smoothes her hair with automatic hand, And puts a record on the gramophone. 'This music crept by me upon the waters' 257 And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street. O City city, I can sometimes hear Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street, The pleasant whining of a mandoline And a clatter and a chatter from within Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls Of Magnus Martyr hold 264 Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold. The river sweats 266 Oil and tar The barges drift With the turning tide Red sails Wide To leeward, swing on the heavy spar. The barges wash Drifting logs Down Greenwich reach Past the Isle of Dogs. Weialala leia Wallala leialala Elizabeth and Leicester 279 Beating oars The stern was formed A gilded shell Red and gold The brisk swell Rippled both shores Southwest wind Carried down stream The peal of bells White towers Weialala leia Wallala leialala 'Trams and dusty trees. Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew 293 Undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees Supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.' 'My feet are at Moorgate and my heart Under my feet. After the event He wept. He promised "a new start." I made no comment. What should I resent?' 'On Margate Sands. 301 I can connect Nothing with nothing. The broken fingernails of dirty hands. My people humble people who expect Nothing.' la la To Carthage then I came 307 Burning burning burning burning 308 O Lord Thou pluckest me out 309 O Lord Thou pluckest burning Title Page

IV. Death by Water

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead, Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell And the profit and loss. A current under sea Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell He passes the stages of his age and youth Entering the whirlpool. Gentile or Jew O you who turn the wheel and look windward, Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you. Title Page

V. What the Thunder Said

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces After the frosty silence in the gardens After the agony in stony places The shouting and the crying Prison and palace and reverberation Of thunder of spring over distant mountains He who was living is now dead We who were living are now dying With a little patience Here is no water but only rock Rock and no water and the sandy road The road winding above among the mountains Which are mountains of rock without water If there were water we should stop and drink Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand If there were only water amongst the rock Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit Here one can neither stand not lie nor sit There is not even silence in the mountains But dry sterile thunder without rain There is not even solitude in the mountains But red sullen faces sneer and snarl From doors of mudcracked houses If there were water And no rock If there were rock And also water And water A spring A pool among the rock If there were the sound of water only Not the cicada And dry grass singing But sound of water over a rock Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop 357 But there is no water Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together 360 But when I look ahead up the white road There is always another one walking beside you Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded I do not know whether a man or a woman - But who is that on the other side of you? What is that sound high in the air 366 Murmur of maternal lamentation Who are those hooded hordes swarming Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth Ringed by the flat horizon only What is the city over the mountains Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air Falling towers Jerusalem Athens Alexandria Vienna London Unreal A woman drew her long black hair out tight And fiddled whisper music on those strings And bats with baby faces in the violet light Whistled, and beat their wings And crawled head downward down a blackened wall And upside down in air were towers Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells. In this decayed hole among the mountains In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home. It has no windows, and the door swings, Dry bones can harm no one. Only a cock stood on the rooftree Co co rico co co rico 392 In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust Bringing rain Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves Waited for rain, while the black clouds Gathered far distant, over Himavant. The jungle crouched, humped in silence. Then spoke the thunder DA Datta: what have we given? 401 My friend, blood shaking my heart The awful daring of a moment's surrender Which an age of prudence can never retract By this, and this only, we have existed Which is not to be found in our obituaries Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider 407 Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor In our empty rooms DA Dayadhvam: I have heard the key Turn in the door once and turn once only 411 We think of the key, each in his prison thinking of the key, each confirms a prison Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus DA Damyata: The boat responded Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar The sea was calm, your heart would have responded Gaily, when invited, beating obedient To controlling hands I sat upon the shore Fishing, with the arid plain behind me 424 Shall I at least set my lands in order? London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina 427 Quando fiam uti chelidon - O swallow swallow 428 Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie 429 These fragments I have shored against my ruins Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe. 431 Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. 401 Shantih shantih shantih 433 Title Page

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