T. S. Eliot – The Waste Land – Dit par T. S. Eliot

Article publié le 11 février 2014

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The Burial of the Dead : 00:00

A Game of Chess : 04:58

The Fire Sermon : 10:21

Death By Water : 18:19

What The Thunder Said : 19:00


Written in 1921-1922.


Notes :


01:30 : « And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief » cf Ecclesiastes

01:40 « Only / There is shadow Under this red rock » refers to Parzival : « And this stone all men call the Graal [...] / As children the Graal doth call them, / Neath its shadow they wax and grow ».

02:00 Tristan und Isolde, I, 5-8

02:40 Words that announce to Tristan that Isolde’s boat is nowhere to be seen.

03:00 « These are pearls that were his eyes » quotation from The Tempest.

03:48 In the following passage, references to Baudelaire (« Fourmillante cité, cité pleine de rêves / Où le spectre en plein jour raccroche le passant ») and to Dante’s Inferno (« si lunga tratta / di gente, ch’io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n’avesne disfatta »)

04:29 Mylae, 260 B.C : Naval victory of the Romans over the Carthaginians, during the first Punic War, which largely resulted from their commercial rivalry ; cf. 1914-1918.

04:54 « Hypocrite lecteur ! - mon semblable, - mon frère ! » : Baudelaire, Préface aux Fleurs du Mal.

05:05 « The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne » : quotation from Anthony and Cleopatra.

06:00 cf Aeneid : « dependent lychni laquearibus aureis / incensi, et noctem flammis funalia vincunt »

06:28 Ovid, Metamorphoses, VI, Philomel. The whole passage recalls Milton’s Paradise Lost, IV, 140

08:00 Rag = ragtime. Cf. Jazz in the post-war years.

10:12 Ophelia’s last words to the dames of the Court, after Hamlet has accused her of being a prostitute.

10:42 Quotation from Spencer’s Prothalamion

11:45 Cf. The Fisher King, or Wounded King, in the Arthurian Legends. His imaginary castle is always near a river or the sea.

12:21 « they wash their feet » like the Fisher King before his restauration

12:25 « O ces voix d’enfants chantant dans la coupole » Verlaine, Parsifal.

13:00 Cannon Street Hotel : where businessmen met.

13:20 In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet of Apollo in Thebes. He was transformed into a woman for 7 years. Both sexes, and all the individuals, are merged in Tiresias. Cf. Ovid : « At pater omnipotens [...] pro lumine adempto / Scire futura dedit poenamque levavit honore »

14:33 Bradford prospered thanks to the war

15:58 « This music crept by me upon the water » quotation from The Tempest.

18:05 « To Carthage then I came » Quotation from Saint Augustine’s Confessions.

18:08 Recalls both Saint Augustine and the Fire Sermon of the Buddha.

18:26 In fertility rites, Phlebas was drowned.

21:52 « A woman drew her long black hair out tight » Cf. Ecclesiastes : one of the daughters of music. The following lines also recall Ecclesiastes (cf. « the wheel be broken at the cistern »)

22:47 The cock dispels the malevolent spirits (see The Tempest or Hamlet)

23:17 « Datta, dayadhvam, damyata » (« Give, commiserate, govern ») from a fable about the meaning of thunder.

24:46 Chorus of a traditional nursery rhyme « London Bridge is broken down / Dance over my lady lee »

24:50 Quotation from Dante’s Purgatorio, followed by a quotation from Gérard de Nerval’s El Desdichado

25:15 « Hieronymo’s mad againe » quotation from Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy Shantih is the ritual end of an Upanishad.


« The use of recurrent themes is as natural to poetry as to music. There are possibilities for verse which bear some analogy to the development of a theme by different groups of instruments [’different voices,’ we might say] ; there are possibilities of transitions in a poem comparable to the different movements of a symphony or a quartet ; there are possibilities of contrapuntal arrangement of subject-matter. »


T.S Eliot, The Music of Poetry (1942)
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