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The Waste Land, read by T.S Eliot (whole poem with notes)

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Published on Jan 23, 2013

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.

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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