The Waste Land

By T. S. Eliot, 1922
The Waste Land

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Excerpt

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
  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,
  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,
  (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;
  "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,
  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.
  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.