The Language Devices and Elements Used in The Wasteland
The wasteland of Thomas Stearns Eliot, poems that was published in 1922, this poem would become the top work of the English author. We can notice in Eliot a modern poetic vision, despite the warnings in time. This poem presents many complexities that makes it very different from what anyone is used to read in this time. T. S. Eliot tried to make his poem hard to understand, so that way people will spend more time reading and trying to interpret, so that way people will be spending more time educating themselves. The Wasteland is a reality, myth, present and past in a complex kaleidoscope of culturalist references. This poetic mosaic sets the desolate portrait of contemporary man. In this poem we can find many metaphors. His radically novel methods of sudden cuts, voice overlap, countless hidden and expressed references. The game of voices, of perspectives, of ideas with which to generate a spiritual and formal knot that transcends even logic to get carried away by the unexpected, the inaccurate, the secret. Also many allusion to other texts, presents quotes with different languages, and he even adds footnotes trying to explain everything.
It is interesting that he uses literary quotations that are well due to the extensive knowledge that also includes a vast amount of foreign languages. The explanatory notes added in the poem turn out to be phrases taken from other poets, in order to accentuate their literary concepts. That would reinforce the basis of the text. The wasteland turns out to be a global poem, a contemporary man’s poem with all that is, was and will be. An integrity of humanity in all its edges. The poems offer the global image of a man who is the product of a complex cultural tradition and hence his problem is triggered. It seems that Eliot intends to poetically reconstruct the confusing cultural complexity of which all, consciously or not, are debtors in many respects, even until now.
Eliot builds his poetry based on confusingly structured evocative elements, presenting passages and formal elements closer to everyday life than to traditional poetic changes, all coupled with a very dense intellectual and cultural burden. This intellectualism of Eliot’s poetry is, in a way, counteracted by the bright and risky metaphors that are lavished throughout its pages, as well as by the innovative rhythm that combines long verses of deep breathing with other very short ones that expedite and accelerate some parts of the wasteland, although it is true that the former abound more: “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.” (379-383).
Metaphors, parallels and rhythmic repetitions are some of the formal resources that the poet uses to bring that attempt to life, in less than five hundred verses, to make a cosmogonic poem, a text that aims to reveal the great miseries of contemporary decline, starting with the whole cultural heritage that makes up the man who is the subject of the poem. Undoubtedly pretentious project that only the poetic genius of the author manages to culminate so brilliantly that it becomes one of the key and unavoidable poems of the twentieth century.
‘April is the cruelest month.’ it is a metaphor for frustrated renewal, pain that causes the change to people; because people are used to thing being only one way, and for a long time nothing changes, but then one day when everything starts to change, like in april that from a long winter we are going to spring, everything changes, new thing are growing in nature, even though the cold is not easy, we learn to live with it, but then slowly starts to change and that is a big source of pain and sadness for people, even though what is coming is better than what it was before. The idea of regeneration symbolized in the spring season – or in the sources, the rain and, in general, any symbol of fertility – appears here nuanced by the cruelty that the impossibility of such regeneration implies. April is a cruel month because it tries to make the life of the dead sprout, because it removes that oblivion with which man covers himself to avoid confronting the moor. Thus, the need and the hope of regeneration are cruel to man because, along with them, he perceives the impossibility that they entail.
Another metaphor that we can find in the third part: The Fire Sermon, “A rat crept softly through the vegetation/ Dragging its slimy belly on the bank/ While I was fishing in the dull canal” the rats represents, dirtiness, diseases, even war that could be happening in the world, but the water represents the purification that is needed. “Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air / Falling towers / Jerusalem Athens Alexandria / Vienna London / Unreal.” this quote from the Section five: “What the Thunder Said” great cultural and spiritual centers of humanity that appear as unreal and that join the idea of Eastern Europe on the way to the abyss. The tone becomes apocalyptic and epic, although it also introduces intimate elements: the hallucination that makes a confused third party look could be a symbol of many united things: that humanity on the road to chaos is also a humanity that will finally glimpse a sign of hope. The hallucination reveals that man has not resigned himself to this precipitating solitude but, at times, perceives the presence of another stranger who walks beside the desperate. And, of course, considering that the path of Emmaus is present in the symbology, we have to remember some apostles desperate for the death of the Messiah: that third visible only at times, could very well be the comforting presence of a resurrected Christ. It also represents how the values of tradition and culture are being lost by the new generation, like the old things that used to mean a lot to people, nor they are being destroyed or people just do not care about it anymore. Personification is also used in this poem to make it more complex, giving human-like qualities to objects, the first one we can find in the third section: “The Fire Section” where the musical sound made by a mandolin to a whining sound of a human being.
The wasteland offers the global image of a man who is the son of a complex cultural tradition that is evoked in the poem through a series of quick notes not always obvious to the reader. It is possible to think that Eliot’s intention is not that the reader captures all cultural references and discerns their origin and meaning, but that with them he intends to poetically reconstruct the confusing cultural complexity of which all, consciously or not, are debtors, as well as the contemporary cultural miscegenation that leads to a plural and baroque society that accentuates the existential complexity: the answers are never clear and univocal, as they were for our ancients, but are intermingled by the western reality in which the futile and trivial coexists with the deep and transcendent.
That is why Eliot introduces verses in other languages – German, French, Italian… – whose meaning does not always contribute something to the understanding of the poem, but rather only pretends to be an “exotic” evocation that impacts the reader through the surprise. Verses taken from classical authors abound throughout the work: Dante, Shakespeare, Nerval, Baudelaire, etc. Greco-Latin myths -Acteón and Diana, Filomena and Tereo, Tiresias- coexist, and at certain times they are confused, with naked and anonymous everyday scenes: the typist who receives the young man in his room, the women who speak in the tavern… AND there is still room for Eliot to refer to the great peaks of Eastern and Western mysticism: the Sermon of Fire and St. Augustine take their word in alternate verses: “To Carthage then I came / Burning burning burning burning / O Lord Thou pluckest me out / O Lord Thou pluckest”(307-311). Of course, Eliot never neglects Christian culture, although references to it tend to be more veiled – and also more present – than the others. Thus, for example, part V begins with a dark allusion to the apostles on the Way of Emmaus, which turns the pagan regenerating death by water into the death of Christ.
In conclusion, we can say that The Waste Land still until today is one of the most important poem At first glance, for an initial reading, it seems that the poem offers us quite violent and confusing contours; but after careful analysis, we realize a much broader view of the author. It appears, among the verses, that particular new and moving mythology, a risky way of time travel. The wasteland turns out to be a global poem, a contemporary man’s poem with all that is, was and will be. The poems offers the global image of a man who is the product of a complex cultural tradition. It seems that Eliot intends to poetically reconstruct the confusing cultural complexity”.
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