The Waste Land

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The Triumph of Death

I've been interested in the recent TSE on-list emoticon discussion. It seems that there are those on-list who think emoticons are useful in conveying meaning, while others are convinced emoticons are a poor substitute for the written word.

It's too bad that emoticons had not been invented by 1922. We could have had this much improved version of TWL:

April is the cruellest 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 :-O , coming over the Starnbergersee

'My nerves are bad to-night :-[ . Yes, bad :-[ . Stay with me :'-( .    
'Speak to me. Why do you never speak :X ? Speak :X   :X   :X   .    

'You know nothing? <:-) Do you see nothing ?  |-)    Do you remember    

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. TTFN TTFN 
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.


In response to a question to the TSE maillist about the line

These fragments I have shored against my ruins

Robert Meyer wrote:

This line, like many, has a story all it's own. It was the earliest known line of TWL to have been written, far before the manuscript version in the Berg Collection, even before his years at Harvard. It was discovered at the Smith Academy in St Louis and was apparently a note passed from Eliot to a classmate, the heretofore unknown "Myron", concerning a green candy popular among the children there at the turn of the century. Of course, Eliot encrypted the line when published so as to not draw attention to unscholarly youth. Here is for the first time in public:

"These frog-mints, I have stored again, Myron."

Robert Meyer, TSE maillist Thu, 18 Nov 1999, used with permission.

Stranger in a Strange Waste Land by T.S. Heinlein

Valentine Michael Smith, born during, and the only survivor of, the first manned mission to Mars is raised by Martians. To Earth he came with no knowledge of Earth's cultures or religions but, through footnotes, we see him absorb all as no man, save one, has done before. Smith feels at home amongst the red rocks, the rocks, the parched landscape and more damn rocks. He soon finds, one after another, a cast of strange characters in need of love. Smith is the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest into a commune where Smith leads the group into a realization of love through sex and where they live under his four rules: give, sympathize, control, grok.


"The whole passage from Ovid is of great anthropological interest" (T.S. Eliot)[1]
"a piece that passeth all understanding," (J. M. May)[2]
"Datta, dayadhvam damyata. Shantih, shantih, shantih!" (Beldor, King of Mars)

[1] Cf. T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land," note to line 216 [2] Cf. J.M. May, quoted by Ian Johnston, http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/introser/eliot.htm

The 1994 movie Tom and Viv is a portrayal of Eliot's life with his first wife Vivienne. Here is a review of the movie.

The musical Cats is based on Eliot's Ol' Possum's Book of Practical Cats and the song Memory that is in it is based on Eliot's poem Rhapshody on a Windy Night.

As a City of London worker and Eliot fan (also hitherto silent list member) thought I'd mention a feature/sculpture noticed recently near Old Broad St in the Square Mile. In Austin Friars Square EC2 there is a recently (I believe) erected street scupture (or memorial ?) which consists of an approx 12ftx3ft high granite pillar. On it are inscribed the following lines from Burnt Norton : "At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless ;Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,But neither arrest nor movement." There is no other inscription or explanation on the pillar or in the vicinity. Does anyone have any ideas as to the origin or potential explanation for such a feature ? I knew that Eliot worked in Lloyds Bank in Lombard St, but that's about 1/4 mile away. Anyway, thought this might be of interest to potential City tourists....

I'll probably break the "Fun with The Waste Land" section of my links page into a seperate page. I'll be sure to add the "Eliot Soup" found by David ( http://www.medienkunst.com/genicht/ ) I've got permission to add Robert's "Frog mints" and Steve's "Smiley Waste Land" posts to the site.

In the 1995 Woody Allen film Mighty Aphrodite Tiresias, the blind seer of Thebes (played by Jack Warden) appears in modern New York City where he recounts a tale of a sexual incident.

Fun with the Waste Land

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