It’s true that we read for plot quite often. It’s all about a good story, and some conflict, and a climax and a resolution. Heck, when I was younger I would sometimes skip the pages with emotional interludes so I could get to the story. I thought I already knew about emotions. I wanted to know what had happened to make so and so sad, not a soliloquy about why so and so was sad. But for me poetry has always been an exception to this, and The Wasteland is without a doubt the most beautiful and intriguing text we have read so far. It combines the beauty of language with the evocativeness of association: I feel like I’ve done all this before, somehow. Anyways, without waxing poetic on the genius of TS Eliot, i’ll point out some things that are a bit more tangible.
I don’t know if i’ll ever really know what this poem is “about”, but I think that is part of the point. Human history is a succesion of desperate attempts to find meaning. I read on Wikipedia that TS Eliot beleived a poem should suit the age it was written in, and that would make a lot of sense considering this was written after the first world war, and people were trying to validate things and give things a purpose. We always do that. If this poem is obscure of fragmented, that is a part of the art of the poem, and a reflection upon what we as a collective population do. The constant allusions only reinforce this idea. This poem is a patchwork, and all these separate patches form a whole. It couldn’t happen with just one patch and one giant patchless blanket could never exist. This comes back to my pseudo-idea about the way we view the world in partitions, and the reasons that’s a bad way to think. Eliot seems to be saying something similar, although it isn’t really in a negative or positive light, it just is. The world is a mix of latin and greek and dialouge and highbrow master narratives.
Let’s talk about feelings. I finished this poem not really sure what it was as a whole, but appreciating the incredible complexity of language AND, an overwhelming feeling of nihilism. It’s a sort of apathy which, again, (sorry) comes back to it’s fragmented nature. Things are deteriorating in this poem. Things are just getting old and that’s what happens, the end. It’s simple and sad, but I think worth all the other parts to see a whole picture. In the end my childish self still really wants to see one whole, simple picture. TS Eliot says that will never happen, sorry.