Mercury Day poetry: The Waste Land

Regular readers will know that Bobbie teaches a college writing course; for the past couple of years, the central text has been T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. You may have suffered through enjoyed it at some point during your own schooling. Or maybe not.

I re-read it last while flying back home from a business meeting. It’s a bit long, true, but all together wonderful. Below is the last lines, which end with three familiar words. The full poem is at the link above:

Then spoke the thunder
DA  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
DA  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
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


As it says, these are just fragments. The whole is even greater than the sum of its pretty incredible parts.

Posted by Steve