THE WASTE LAND

T. S. ELIOT

(NEW YORK: BONI AND LIVERIGHT, 1922)


I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD

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   5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding 
A little life with dried tubers. 
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee 
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, 
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,  10
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. 
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch. 
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's, 
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled, 
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,  15
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. 
In the mountains, there you feel free. 
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. 
 
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow 
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,  20
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only 
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, 
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, 
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only 
There is shadow under this red rock,  25
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock), 
And I will show you something different from either 
Your shadow at morning striding behind you 
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; 
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.  30
                Frisch weht der Wind 
                Der Heimat zu. 
                Mein Irisch Kind, 
                Wo weilest du? 
'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;  35
'They called me the hyacinth girl.' 
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, 
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not 
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither 
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,  40
Looking into the heart of light, the silence. 
Od' und leer das Meer. 
 
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante, 
Had a bad cold, nevertheless 
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,  45
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, 
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, 
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) 
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks, 
The lady of situations.  50
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel, 
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card, 
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back, 
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find 
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.  55
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring. 
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone, 
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself: 
One must be so careful these days. 
 
Unreal City,  60
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, 
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, 
I had not thought death had undone so many. 
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, 
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.  65
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, 
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours 
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine. 
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying 'Stetson! 
'You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!  70
'That corpse you planted last year in your garden, 
'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 
'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? 
'Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men, 
'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!  75
'You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!' 
 
II. A GAME OF CHESS

THE Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,

 
Glowed on the marble, where the glass 
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines 
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out  80
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing) 
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra 
Reflecting light upon the table as 
The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it, 
From satin cases poured in rich profusion;  85
In vials of ivory and coloured glass 
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes, 
Unguent, powdered, or liquid—troubled, confused 
And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air 
That freshened from the window, these ascended  90
In fattening the prolonged candle-flames, 
Flung their smoke into the laquearia, 
Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling. 
Huge sea-wood fed with copper 
Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,  95
In which sad light a carvèd dolphin swam. 
Above the antique mantel was displayed 
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene 
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king 
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale 100
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice 
And still she cried, and still the world pursues, 
'Jug Jug' to dirty ears. 
And other withered stumps of time 
Were told upon the walls; staring forms 105
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed. 
Footsteps shuffled on the stair. 
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair 
Spread out in fiery points 
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still. 110
 
'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me. 
'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak. 
'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? 
'I never know what you are thinking. Think.' 
 
I think we are in rats' alley 115
Where the dead men lost their bones. 
 
'What is that noise?' 
                      The wind under the door. 
'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?' 
                      Nothing again nothing. 120
                                              'Do 
'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember 
'Nothing?' 
  I remember 
Those are pearls that were his eyes. 125
'Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?' 
                                                         But 
O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag— 
It's so elegant 
So intelligent 130
'What shall I do now? What shall I do?' 
'I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street 
'With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow? 
'What shall we ever do?' 
                          The hot water at ten. 135
And if it rains, a closed car at four. 
And we shall play a game of chess, 
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door. 
 
When Lil's husband got demobbed, I said— 
I didn't mince my words, I said to her myself, 140
HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME 
Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart. 
He'll want to know what you done with that money he gave you 
To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there. 
You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set, 145
He said, I swear, I can't bear to look at you. 
And no more can't I, I said, and think of poor Albert, 
He's been in the army four years, he wants a good time, 
And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said. 
Oh is there, she said. Something o' that, I said. 150
Then I'll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look. 
HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME 
If you don't like it you can get on with it, I said. 
Others can pick and choose if you can't. 
But if Albert makes off, it won't be for lack of telling. 155
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique. 
(And her only thirty-one.) 
I can't help it, she said, pulling a long face, 
It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said. 
(She's had five already, and nearly died of young George.) 160
The chemist said it would be alright, but I've never been the same. 
You are a proper fool, I said. 
Well, if Albert won't leave you alone, there it is, I said, 
What you get married for if you don't want children? 
HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME 165
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. 170
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight. 
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night. 
 
III. THE FIRE SERMON

THE river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf

 
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind 
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed. 175
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song. 
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers, 
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends 
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed. 
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors; 180
Departed, have left no addresses. 
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept... 
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song, 
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long. 
But at my back in a cold blast I hear 185
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear. 
 
A rat crept softly through the vegetation 
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank 
While I was fishing in the dull canal 
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse 190
Musing upon the king my brother's wreck 
And on the king my father's death before him. 
White bodies naked on the low damp ground 
And bones cast in a little low dry garret, 
Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year. 195
But at my back from time to time I hear 
The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring 
Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring. 
O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter 
And on her daughter 200
They wash their feet in soda water 
Et, O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la coupole! 
 
Twit twit twit 
Jug jug jug jug jug jug 
So rudely forc'd. 205
Tereu 
 
Unreal City 
Under the brown fog of a winter noon 
Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant 
Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants 210
C.i.f. London: documents at sight, 
Asked me in demotic French 
To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel 
Followed by a weekend at the Metropole. 
 
At the violet hour, when the eyes and back 215
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits 
Like a taxi throbbing waiting, 
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives, 
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see 
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives 220
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea, 
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights 
Her stove, and lays out food in tins. 
Out of the window perilously spread 
Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays, 225
On the divan are piled (at night her bed) 
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays. 
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs 
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest— 
I too awaited the expected guest. 230
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives, 
A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare, 
One of the low on whom assurance sits 
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire. 
The time is now propitious, as he guesses, 235
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired, 
Endeavours to engage her in caresses 
Which still are unreproved, if undesired. 
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once; 
Exploring hands encounter no defence; 240
His vanity requires no response, 
And makes a welcome of indifference. 
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all 
Enacted on this same divan or bed; 
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall 245
And walked among the lowest of the dead.) 
Bestows on final patronising kiss, 
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit... 
 
She turns and looks a moment in the glass, 
Hardly aware of her departed lover; 250
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass: 
'Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.' 
When lovely woman stoops to folly and 
Paces about her room again, alone, 
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand, 255
And puts a record on the gramophone. 
 
'This music crept by me upon the waters' 
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street. 
O City city, I can sometimes hear 
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street, 260
The pleasant whining of a mandoline 
And a clatter and a chatter from within 
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls 
Of Magnus Martyr hold 
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold. 265
 
      The river sweats 
      Oil and tar 
      The barges drift 
      With the turning tide 
      Red sails 270
      Wide 
      To leeward, swing on the heavy spar. 
      The barges wash 
      Drifting logs 
      Down Greenwich reach 275
      Past the Isle of Dogs. 
            Weialala leia 
            Wallala leialala 
 
      Elizabeth and Leicester 
      Beating oars 280
      The stern was formed 
      A gilded shell 
      Red and gold 
      The brisk swell 
      Rippled both shores 285
      Southwest wind 
      Carried down stream 
      The peal of bells 
      White towers 
            Weialala leia 290
            Wallala leialala 
 
'Trams and dusty trees. 
Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew 
Undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees 
Supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.' 295
'My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart 
Under my feet. After the event 
He wept. He promised "a new start". 
I made no comment. What should I resent?' 
'On Margate Sands. 300
I can connect 
Nothing with nothing. 
The broken fingernails of dirty hands. 
My people humble people who expect 
Nothing.' 305
      la la 
 
To Carthage then I came 
 
Burning burning burning burning 
O Lord Thou pluckest me out 
O Lord Thou pluckest 310
 
burning 
 
IV. DEATH BY WATER

PHLEBAS the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,

 
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell 
And the profit and loss. 
                          A current under sea 315
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell 
He passed the stages of his age and youth 
Entering the whirlpool. 
                          Gentile or Jew 
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, 320
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you. 
 
V. WHAT THE THUNDER SAID

AFTER the torchlight red on sweaty faces

 
After the frosty silence in the gardens 
After the agony in stony places 
The shouting and the crying 325
Prison and palace and reverberation 
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains 
He who was living is now dead 
We who were living are now dying 
With a little patience 330
 
Here is no water but only rock 
Rock and no water and the sandy road 
The road winding above among the mountains 
Which are mountains of rock without water 
If there were water we should stop and drink 335
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think 
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand 
If there were only water amongst the rock 
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit 
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit 340
There is not even silence in the mountains 
But dry sterile thunder without rain 
There is not even solitude in the mountains 
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl 
From doors of mudcracked houses
                                 If there were water
 345
  And no rock 
  If there were rock 
  And also water 
  And water 
  A spring 350
  A pool among the rock 
  If there were the sound of water only 
  Not the cicada 
  And dry grass singing 
  But sound of water over a rock 355
  Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees 
  Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop 
  But there is no water 
 
Who is the third who walks always beside you? 
When I count, there are only you and I together 360
But when I look ahead up the white road 
There is always another one walking beside you 
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded 
I do not know whether a man or a woman 
—But who is that on the other side of you? 365
 
What is that sound high in the air 
Murmur of maternal lamentation 
Who are those hooded hordes swarming 
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth 
Ringed by the flat horizon only 370
What is the city over the mountains 
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air 
Falling towers 
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria 
Vienna London 375
Unreal 
 
A woman drew her long black hair out tight 
And fiddled whisper music on those strings 
And bats with baby faces in the violet light 
Whistled, and beat their wings 380
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. 
 
In this decayed hole among the mountains 385
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing 
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel 
There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home. 
It has no windows, and the door swings, 
Dry bones can harm no one. 390
Only a cock stood on the rooftree 
Co co rico co co rico 
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust 
Bringing rain 
 
Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves 395
Waited for rain, while the black clouds 
Gathered far distant, over Himavant. 
The jungle crouched, humped in silence. 
Then spoke the thunder 
A 400
Datta: what have we given? 
My friend, blood shaking my heart 
The awful daring of a moment's surrender 
Which an age of prudence can never retract 
By this, and this only, we have existed 405
Which is not to be found in our obituaries 
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider 
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor 
In our empty rooms 
A 410
Dayadhvam: I have heard the key 
Turn in the door once and turn once only 
We think of the key, each in his prison 
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison 
Only at nightfall, aetherial rumours 415
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus 
A 
Damyata: The boat responded 
Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar 
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded 420
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient 
To controlling hands 
 
                      I sat upon the shore 
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me 
Shall I at least set my lands in order? 425
 
London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down 
 
Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina 
Quando fiam ceu chelidon—O swallow swallow 
Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie 
These fragments I have shored against my ruins 430
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe. 
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. 
 
            Shantih shantih shantih 


The digital text courtesy of The New Bartleby, A National Digital Library.

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