The Waste Land: Thoughts

So going into today’s seminar, to be honest here.. I didn’t really have a good grasp at all on this poem. Not saying that my understanding of it is amazing or anything, but I mean, it definitely improved upon talking about it with all of you. Jon said that this would probably be the hardest not-philosophical text we would come across in this course— and I understand why. For starters, maybe I wasn’t really focused, but I found that it was hard to follow along with what the story of the poem. It seemed kind of scattered to me and really confusing. (In high school, analyzing poetry wasn’t really my forte, so doing this one was a bit of a task for me).  This was a read that I needed to take my time with on some lines (well, more than a few) and go over until I could finally comprehend it.

With Waste Land, asides finding it a bit of a more challenging read, I thought that the inputs of phrases in different languages made following the story that much harder. Lines like, “Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.” Thoroughly threw me off guard.. but I think that maybe Eliot added those in there to emphasize the language barriers. How perhaps we will never really be able to fully understand one another, or the difficulty in doing so, due to these cultural differences, or maybe he did it to emphasize his German roots? I don’t really know, so these are really all just thoughts going through my head. I also found that the poem didn’t follow a set rhythm or pattern of any sort. It was a bit scattered and varied, which I assume was to emphasize more parts in comparison to others, depending on the scenario.

What I can say, however, is that in spite of the challenge (which is something I feel like I placed emphasis on pretty well), when I finally did understand and manage to follow the story, I quite enjoyed it. I particularly found Part II. A Game Of Chess to be most interesting to me. How the woman was fixated on getting herself a set of false teeth as a means of pleasing her husband and ensuring that he doesn’t go looking for other women. I found this to be of interest to me, because of the story no doubt, but also because of the interruptions of the bartender. I liked how it didn’t follow an organized, usual structure of a poem, and thought that it was an alternative take and a refreshing twist to writing.

Anyways, overall, Eliot was better than I expected. Can’t wait to hear more thoughts!

3 thoughts on “The Waste Land: Thoughts

  1. “maybe I wasn’t really focused, but I found that it was hard to follow along with what the story of the poem.”

    This wasn’t because you weren’t focussed… it’s because (as Kevin also said), really the poem doesn’t have a story or narrative; or at best it has a rather tenuous one, that we have to work hard to construct. And indeed, it’s this lack of a story that’s part of the point. So don’t blame yourself! 🙂

  2. I really liked this post. I completely agree with you that at first glance, this poem is definitely overwhelming and hard to follow. I love that you mentioned the idea of language barriers. That never came across to me while reading, I was just confused by it, but now that you mention it, it makes a lot of sense. I also loved that in A Game of Chess the woman’s want of teeth. I think it shows the pointlessness of some of the things we find so important in everyday life, the ridiculous in the mundane.

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