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By: Ben Keltner
For: Ms Bisera
Date: 11/07/2016
For the Elliots, Lermontovs,
and Thoreaus of the world
who died too young to see
their vision realized, and lived
too long to believe it ever
Distrust of authority should
be the first civic duty.

---- Norman

1. Summary of Theme
2. Metaphysical Poetry
1. Denial By: George Herbert
3. Romantic Poetry
1. Chimney Sweeper, (Songs of Innocence) By: William Blake
2. Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Experience) By: William Blake
4. Modern Poetry
1. The Waste Land (The Burial of the Dead) By: T. S. Elliot
2. The Waste Land (A Game of Chess) By: T. S. Elliot
3. The Waste Land (The Fire Sermon) By: T. S. Elliot
4. The Waste Land (Death by Water) By: T. S. Elliot
5. The Waste Land (What the Thunder Said) By T. S. Elliot
5. Current Poetry
1. The Solipsist By: Troy Jollimore
6. Translated Poetry
1. The Sail By: Mikhail Lermontov
2. The Death of a Poet By: Mikhail Lermontov
7. Lyrical Songs
1. With God on Our Side By: Bob Dylan
2. Blow’In in the Wind By: Bob Dylan
8. Sonnets
1. America By: Claude McKay
9. Personal Poetry
1. Ravings of a Madman
2. The Ecstatic Sisyphus
3. Rage
4. The Darkest Light

What is poetry if not a search for truth. At its most fundamental level poetry is a medium through
which people may express themselves in a transcendent way, away from, if only in spirit, the oppression
and the societal forces which govern our lives. It expresses fears, inhibitions, and truths which so often
cultures, societies, or even the poets themselves would be unable to reconcile.
As such in the following anthology I will attempt to delve into the poets throughout history, and their
poems which have sought to fi nd truth in the face of what is perhaps a flawed institution. This is prone to
take many forms as there is in fact no shortage to the detrimental omnipotent authorities which we are all
subservient to. The poems within this text will serve as a way in which the authors ever so subtly lifted
the veil blinding us from the faceless powers we are beholden to.
The first poem in the set is one by George Herbert titled “Denial” and gives a good fi rst piece in this
puzzle of works criticizing flawed institutions as he grapples with the oldest and most well established
institution of human history, religion. It also introduces a nice theme right off the bat with the
fundamental ambivalence and apprehension in his work as he exists within a society which is so firmly
rooted within the institution of religion that it shakes not only the society but also himself in his fearful
statement of the truth.
The next set of two poems comes from William Blake who treads in a similar line of thought with
Herbert in the way in which he is critical of the religious institution. He however takes a different
approach to this issue, rather than expressing this doubts in a belief in a God, expresses his disapproval of
the actions of the church, and the role which they played in the indoctrination of the industrial revolution.
Third in this collection of poems is by far the most notable of the pieces, and by far the most dense.
“The Waste Land” by T. S. Elliot in many respects epitomizes the ultimate critic of society from a variety of
angles. However one particularly notable aspect of this work is that it unlike the other two see’s religion
as a salvation to what ails society not as the illness itself.
The poem from the modern day comes from a little known poet Troy Jolliemore and his piece takes a
unique perspective in its critique of society in the way in which it uses the philosophy of solipsism as a
metaphor for the root detriment of egotism and narcissism which he sees as a detriment to the
appreciation of the beauty of the world.
Next in the lineup are two poems from Mikhail Lermontov, arguably one of the preeminent Russian
poets in history. Traditionally know as a revolutionary Lermontov was exiled from Russia twice in his life,
the first being after he wrote the second of the two poems. Though controversial “Death of a Poet” is
widely recognized as among his best works and the work which thrust him into literary notability. It was
written after the death of Alexander Pushkin and among other things was highly critical of the
governments suppression of the arts. The first of the two works is one which was written shortly after his
first exile as he goes into a deep introspection on the future of his life, and his identity as a revolutionary.
As the lyrical songs role around there is a slight change in the focus of the criticism however still
quite a few common elements. In the two songs by Bob Dylan which are included in this collection, Dylan
is particularly critical of the US government as well as the war mongering mentality which it has chosen to
The final poem which was included other that personal poetry is a sonnet from Claude McKay in
which he begins to highlight themes of flawed institution which are apparent even in the modern day. Like
many of the artist in the Harlem Renaissance McKay’s poetry centers around the implicit divisions and
systemic racism which he would often encounter on a daily basis.
Though clearly there are a broad range of diverse themes and idea’s represented throughout this
poetry they all contain the common thread critiquing the institution which has begun to spurn those it was
meant to protect. This is a theme as old as time itself and the ability to have the perspective to do this is
the cornerstone of any good poet. In the words of Norman Douglass, “Distrust of authority should be the
first civic duty.”
(16th – 17th century)

Speaks directly to
His faithmy
When in God did could not pierce
devotions God as if he knows
not produce any
Thy silent ears, him to exist.
proof, and this
Then was my heart broken, as was my verse; Equates “verse” or his
planted a seed of
My breast was full of fears
doubt. poem, with his faith or
Doesn’t know how to
And disorder. fundamental ideology.
Are “bent thoughts” his belief in God,
reconcile his new or belief otherwise?
found inhibitions.
My bent thoughts, like a brittle bow,
Did fly asunder:
Ways tookthe
in which hisblind
way; some would to pleasures go,
Some to the wars and thunder
Deafening imagery, as if to drown out
Of alarms.
a voice.

Many in society are content with
“As good go anywhere,” they say,
“As to benumb
Both knees and heart, in crying night and day,
Come, come, my God, O come! Prayer to no avail
But no hearing.”

O that thou shouldst give dust a tongue
To cry to thee,
More lament of ignored prayer
And then not hear it crying! All day long Further illustrates his dependence
My heart was in my knee, on his faith.

But no hearing.

Therefore my soul lay out of sight,
Faith has defined his soulunstrung:
Untuned, and as such
with a crisis of faith he feels that his faith lies
n peril upon My feeble
the edge of aspirit, unable to look right,
Like a nipped blossom, hung

O cheer and tune my heartless breast,
Defer no time;
That so thy favors granting my request,
In final line refers to poem as a
They and my mind may chime, entity he has no control over,
And mend my rhyme. and wants his assertion of
doubt to be wrong, but for some
reason cannot write it as such.

George Herbert in his poem “Denial” is in many respects vastly beyond his
literary era, critiquing the institution widely regarded as the fundamental
governing influence over society as they knew it, religion. In no uncertain
terms, this was a practice which was completely unheard of and in fairness that
is something which is repeatedly referenced throughout the poem in Herbert’s
own inhibitions in writing this work. The protagonist of this work is a poet,
presumably Herbert himself, who calls out to God seeking reassurance of his
faith and is repeatedly turned away without explanation.

The poem begins with the protagonist proclaiming this plight, claiming his own
devotion, and then lamenting the silence he is met with. As a man of faith
surrounded in a country of faith with a society of faith, this lack of certainty,
unsurprisingly, has an immediate detrimental impact with the poet shaken,
fearful, and lost by this question in the fundamental foundation of his belief and
even his being. In this first stanza, he also brings up two recurring elements
when he talks about his “broken heart” and his broken “verse.” Here and
throughout the poem the heart serves as a way to symbolize the vulnerability
which is a part of the protagonist’s faith as it is so dear to him. Verse on the
other hand is symbolic of something different altogether as it is brought up
twice in the poem, once at the beginning, and once at the end. At the
beginning, he speaks about how this doubt, his doubt, has broken his verse and
then at the end asks God to “Mend his rhyme.” Based on this I think it is fair to
say that as a poet Herbert likely chooses the verse of a poem to symbolize
truth, or at the very least his truth. In this way and the way in which he talks
directly to God throughout the poem, it is clear that Herbert has come into the
world with the predisposition of a God which exists and then has become
skeptical of that belief, and I would argue that the “Denial” indicated in the
title speaks not to his denial of a belief in God, but rather a denial of his lack of
a belief in God. To this end, in the second stanza, Herbert talks about his “Bent
thoughts” which snapped. As the thoughts were bent they were clearly
distorted and when they snap, it is symbolic of a profound disillusionment. In
the third stanza, further evidence of this criticism is shown when Herbert
refers to the unnamed entity as saying “As good go anywhere/ as to be numb.”
With this Herbert expresses, not only that he views those speakers as
intellectually subservient, but also his own rejection of such an ideology, or
even theology.
(19th Century)

Songs of Songs of
Innocence Experience
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
A little black thing among the
Could scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! snow,
Crying "weep! 'weep!" in notes
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
of woe!
There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his "Where are thy father and
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved, so I mother? say?"
said, "They are both gone up to the
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's
bare, church to pray.
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white
Because I was happy upon the
And so he was quiet, & that very night, heath,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, &
And smil'd among the winter's
Jack, snow,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;
They clothed me in the clothes
And by came an Angel who had a bright key, of death,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free; And taught me to sing the
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they
run, notes of woe.
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind, And because I am happy and
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind. dance and sing,
And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father & never want joy.
They think they have done me
no injury,
And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark And are gone to praise God
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & and his Priest and King,
warm; Who make up a heaven of our
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
Symbolic youth
innocence and When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Sold into subservience by
Could scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!" mentality he lacked the
maturity to protest.
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
Bleak reality
There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head Brain washed
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved, so I said,
Symbol of innocence
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,
Denial of the reality of the
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair." injustices.
Narrator has bought
into the oppression. Evil of the industrial revolution.
And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
Passes into dream
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack, There is no escape for
any of the children
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black; condemned.

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
Idyllic imagery
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
Fallacy of a dream after death Biblical innocence
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
Flamboyant color scheme
And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
Andforgot with our bags & our brushes to work.
No need to rage
equity because heaven is
just around the corner the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So ifsarcasm
Macabre all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

A little black thing among the snow,
Scarred narrator"weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother? say?"
White snow symbolizes heaven
"They are both gone up to the church to pray.
Parents are not grounded
in reality.

Because I was happy upon the heath,
Does not justify
And smiled among the winter's snow,
They clothed
Parental Duties me in the clothes of death, Parents dictated reality with a far off
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

Actions because
in life have I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery."
Praise not only to God but also
to the institution of religion, in
the form of praise to his
priests and king.
Ironic juxtaposition
With a small amount of research, one can find that the previous two poems are two which
were published successively in two different volumes of poetry by William Blake. Both of which
were labeled “Chimney Sweepers” and were a reflection of Blake’s disapproval of the industrial
revolution as a whole, however most virulently the part which the church played in giving people
the excuse that they would be given the luxury of Heaven if they worked diligently at their post and
did not make trouble. Correctly, Blake saw this as a narrative dripping of manipulation and being
severely detrimental to the public. Obscene as it may seem, many would commit themselves to
grossly unjust labor without protest as they felt they were destined a place in heaven.
In the first of the two poems Blake begins from the perspective of a young child who says,
“When my mother died I was very young,” followed by, “And my father sold me, when my tongue/
could scarcely cry.” The first of these two line clearly shows the loss of a comforting figure in his
life from a very young age and the way in which he was never sheltered from the world. In the
successive two lines the speaker even goes a step farther in saying that his father “sold him,”
allowing him to be swept up by the exploitation of child labor of the industrial revolution, “when my
tongue could scarcely cry,” when he lacked the age or knowledge to protest. As he continues the
child then speaks directly to the reader saying, “So your chimneys I sweep,” as if directly
confronting you as a complicitous member of the atrocities he was subjected to, saying to finish the
first stanza, “& in soot I sleep.” Now this is a notable line for a number of reasons. First of all,
this is the first reference to a recurring theme which is evident throughout the work in which the
juxtaposition of the gritty black reality which children were subjected to, with the far removed
white serene setting of a heaven-like setting which people are promised. In the second stanza, this
theme is further compounded with the focus shifting from the speaker to another boy there, Tom
Dacre. In the poem, we first see Tom as he is squirming in agony as they shave his head and is
compared to a lamb. This comparison is used to show not only the way in which as his head is
shaved he is losing the innocence which the white lamb epitomizes, but also the inescapable
vulnerability of children which so many at the time were attempting to take advantage of. Then
Blake throws something of a curveball when the narrator says, “"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for
when your head's bare,/You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair” showing that he too
has bought into this indoctrination. The phrase, “head’s bare” is particularly notable as well
because of the double meaning behind it in the way that it begets the absence of hair, as well as
the absence of free will or a mind. Then in the aforementioned final line the metaphor is somewhat
on the nose with the juxtaposing white and black, of corrupting innocence and our refusal to behold
the evils which we propagate.
As this poem continues in the next stanza it continues to follow Tom as he passes into a
deep dream. In the dream a number of children, his fellow chimney sweeps, are “locked up in
coffins of black” and die. He then talks about the fantasy of which Tom dreams in which a golden
angel comes bearing the keys to free them of their damnation. Then they are set loose in heaven to
run, dance, and play in the evergreen pastures they had never seen. For two stanzas, the boys are
ensconced by this dreamland and then it is in the final two lines that there is a subtle yet notable
change in the tone. Here the poem says, “And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy, /He'd have
God for his father & never want joy.” Here it is once again clear that this entire façade is in fact
nothing more than one more deception. This entire scene is nothing more than something out of
Tom’s imagination and yet the Angel still seems aware of this, claiming that Tom must in the future
“be a good boy” and “never want for joy.” Clearly in the final stanza this is reflected with Tom’s
internal dialogue as talks of his content and thereby cedes his soul.

In this second addition of Blake’s story of the Chimney Sweeps, he gives a conclusion to his
tale of tragedy and manipulation. If we are to glean anything from the titles of these works with the
former being “Songs of Innocence” and the current being the “Songs of Experience,” it is a safe
assumption to make to say that we will now see the ramifications of the events which transpired.
This is first hinted at with the very first line when the image is given, “A little black thing among the
snow.” Immediately we see that Blake begins right where he left off in the last poem with the harsh
juxtaposition between white and black, and as we will soon see, the contrast of the darkness of our
world in the face of an idyllic heaven-like domain which we were once promised, and which the
narrator has now reached. However, as we now go back to the first line, one will notice that it is in
fact the narrator who now sees himself as the little black thing, scarred by life and now out of place
in death. This also further hints that the theme which was mentioned in the previous explication of
the ramification of life not being expunged in death. It is interesting to note that Blake was, in fact,
a very religious man and as such it is likely he did not view the heaven landscape as a delusion as
one might think at first glance, rather he sees this second poem’s setting as the more likely situation
with an afterlife, but not one which vindicates all of the atrocities of life. Similar to this idea, the
poem continues with another reference to the previous poem in which it says, “Crying "weep!
'weep!" in notes of woe!” In the last poem, it echoed this repetitions which the addition now with
the phrase “Crying… in notes of woe.” Now if we remember back to the last poem when the child
sold into the industrial revolution said, “I scarcely knew to cry,” it is now clear that with his age and
experience he now has the perspective to cry, and recognize the profound injustice which has been
done to him.
The question is then posed to him where are your parents, symbols of his protection from the
world, and he responds, “they have gone up to the church to pray.” With this, it is clear that his
parents have emphasized what Blake would consider a blind faith in the institution of religion and
have neglected their parental duties, buying into a profoundly flawed narrative and being complicit
in that narrative’s indiscretions.
In the next stanza, Blake further compounds this idea by first illustrating the ignorance of the
parents of the truth of the situation of their child, and then saying that, “They clothed me in the
clothes of death,/ And taught me to sing the notes of woe.” Here we once again see the
reemergence of the phrase “the notes of woe,” and Blake in no uncertain terms firmly points his
finger at the child's parents for not only causing his distress, but also condemning him to death.
In the final quartet of the poem there are a number of elements of note. The first two lines
are in large part simply meant to further codify the point of the parents’ ignorance to the reality of
the world. However, the third line of this stanza introduces another interesting dynamic when it
talks about the child's parents having gone to praise, “God and his Priest and King.” Now this is a
relevant detail because the parents are going to not only praise God, but also the institution of
religion represented by the King and Priest. Then in the final line when Blake concludes his story by
talking about how these individuals crafted, “the heaven of our misery.” Here the ironic
juxtaposition is obvious, and Blake concludes by calling the salvation promised by Heaven, nothing
more than another Hell.
(20th Century)
April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither

Memory and desire, stirring Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,

Dull roots with spring rain. Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

Winter kept us warm, covering Oed' und leer das Meer. 42

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,43

A little life with dried tubers. Had a bad cold, nevertheless

Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,

With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, 46

And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,

And drank coff ee, and talked for an hour. (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)

Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch. 12 Here is Belladonna, The Lady of the Rocks, The lady of situations.

And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke's, Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,

My cousin's, he took me out on a sled, And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,

And I was frightened. He said, Marie, Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,

Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find

In the mountains, there you feel free. The Hanged Man. Fear death by water. 55

I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. 18 I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Out of this stony rubbish?Son of man, 20 Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only One must be so careful these days.
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, Unreal City, 60
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, 23 Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only A crowd fl owed over London Bridge, so many,
There is shadow under this red rock, I had not thought death had undone so many. 63
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock), Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, 64
And I will show you something diff erent from either And each man fi xed his eyes before his feet.
Your shadow at morning striding behind you Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
I will show you fear in a handful of dust. 30 With a dead sound on the fi nal stroke of nine. 68
Frisch weht der Wind 31
Der Heimat zu There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: 'Stetson! 69
Mein Irisch Kind
Wo weilest du? 'You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!

'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; 'That corpse you planted last year in your garden,

'They called me the hyacinth girl.' 'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?

-Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth garden, 'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?

Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not 'O keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men, 74

'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!

'You! Hypocrite lecteur! - mon semblable, - mon frère!' 76

Eliot's original notes have been supplemented by additional notations, which appear in green like so. I have taken several notes directly from M. H.
Abrams et al., eds., The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 6th ed., vol. 2 (NY: Norton, 1993). I have also drawn heavily on A Guide to the Selected
Poems of T.S. Eliot by B. C. Southam.
The title probably originates with Malory's Morte d'Arthur. A poem strikingly similar in theme and language called Waste Land, written by Madison
Cawein, was published in 1913.
Eliot's original title for the poem was He do the Policemen in Diff erent Voices, a reference to Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, and is a comment
on the skill of Sloppy in reading out Court cases from the newspapers.
Epigraph I have seen with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her "What do you want?" She answered,
"I want to die."
Petronius, Satyricon
The Cumaean Sibyl was the most famous of the Sibyls, the prophetic old women of Greek mythology; she guided Aeneas through Hades in the Aeneid.
She had been granted immortality by Apollo, but because she forgot to ask for perpetual youth, she shrank into withered old age and her authority
Dedication The better craftsman.
(Purgatorio xxvi, 117)
Not only the title, but the plan and a good deal of the incidental symbolism of the poem were suggested by Miss Jessie L. Weston's book on the Grail
legend: From Ritual to Romance (Macmillan). Indeed, so deeply am I indebted, Miss Weston's book will elucidate the diff iculties of the poem much
better than my notes can do; and I recommend it (apart from the great interest of the book itself) to any who think such elucidation of the poem worth
the trouble. To another work of anthropology I am indebted in general, one which has infl uenced our generation profoundly; I mean The Golden Bough;
I have used especially the two volumes Adonis, Attis, Osiris. Anyone who is acquainted with these works will immediately recognize in the poem certain
references to vegetation ceremonies.
12.I am not Russian at all; I come from Lithuania, I am a real German
18.Eliot derived most of the ideas in this passage from My Past by the Countess Marie Larisch.
20. Cf. Ezekiel 2:7.
23. Cf. Ecclesiastes 12:5.
30. Cf. Donne's Devotions. Evelyn Waugh took this phrase for the title of his novel, A Handful of Dust .
31. The wind blows fresh
To the Homeland
My Irish Girl
Where are you lingering?
V. Tristan und Isolde, i, verses 5-8.
42. Desolate and empty the sea
Id. iii, verse 24.
43. A mock Egyptian name (suggested to Eliot by 'Sesostris, the Sorceress of Ecbatana', the name assumed by a character in Aldous Huxley's novel
Crome Yellow who dresses up as a gypsy to tell fortunes at a fair).
46. I am not familiar with the exact constitution of the Tarot pack of cards, from which I have obviously departed to suit my own convenience. The
Hanged Man, a member of the traditional pack, fi ts my purpose in two ways: because he is associated in my mind with the Hanged God of Frazer, and
because I associate him with the hooded fi gure in the passage of the disciples to Emmaus in Part V. The Phoenician Sailor and the Merchant appear
later; also the 'crowds of people', and Death by Water is executed in Part IV. The Man with Three Staves (an authentic member of the Tarot pack) I
associate, quite arbitrarily, with the Fisher King himself.
55. On his card in the Tarot pack, the Hanged Man is shown hanging from one foot from a T-shaped cross. He symbolizes the self-sacrifi ce of the fertility
god who is killed in order that his resurrection may bring fertility once again to land and people.
60. Cf. Baudelaire:
Fourmillante cité, cité pleine de rêves,
Où le spectre en plein jour raccroche le passant.
63. Cf. Dante's Inferno, iii. 55-7:
si lunga tratta
di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto
che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta.
So long a train of people, that I should never have believed death had undone so many.
64. Cf. 63. Cf. Dante's Inferno, iv. 25-27:
Quivi, secondo che per ascoltare,
non avea pianto, ma' che di sospiri,
che l'aura eterna facevan tremare.
Here there was no plaint, that could be heard, except of sighs, which caused the eternal air to tremble.
68. A phenomenon which I have often noticed.
69. Some have taken 'Stetson' to be a reference to Pound, who wore a sombrero-stetson. Eliot, however, denied that it had any connection to an actual
74. Cf. the Dirge in Webster's White Devil.
76. Hypocrite reader! - my doppelganger - my brother!
V. Baudelaire, Preface to Fleurs du Mal.
From the book of common
prayer, concept of dust to
dust. T. S. ELLIOT
Hope but for tragedy.

“Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Σιβυλλα
Discordinate nature of Desolate ocean seperating Tristan from his lo
τι θελεις; respondebat illa: αποθανειν θελω.” Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
multiple languages.
Sybil mythological Quote from Vagner,
For Ezra Pound Oed’ und leer das Meer.
Death is Quote, “I want “desolate and empty the
il miglior fabbro. to die.”
something to be sea.”
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante, Change in perspective
Month of spring Had a bad cold, nevertheless
April is the cruellest month, breeding Recurring theme of the flawed
and life, and
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing thereby cruel? Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
Allusion to Canterbury Tales. The future is ill.
Memory and desire, stirring With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, Beautiful rebirth
after death cannot
Lack Dull roots with spring rain. Speaking Death by water.
Desire for a better time which once was. Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, be achieved.
of to a
rebirth Winter kept us warm, covering person. Allusion to Shakespeare’s The
New life of spring confronts (Those are pearls that were his eyes.Tempest:
Look!) Death of sailors
and Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
reality we do not to face, Beautiful
loss of once again.
satisfied with ignorant bliss
A little life with dried tubers. woman in Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
faith. of winter. Italian. Biblical allusion to MaryActual Tarot card
Summer surprised us, coming over the StarnbergerseeAlso is a The lady of situations.
Shift in perspective representing drought and
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, poison.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel, famine.
Cyclical nature of the world.
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card, division and
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Idylic memory with failure to recognize the
echtdiction. Which is blank, is something he carries on struggles
his back,of the lower
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, Heclass
has no future
deutsch. Which I am forbidden to see. I do not fiDeath
nd once again is
Human interaction and comradery
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s, something to be desired
Past My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled, Strikes discordant note The Hanged Man. Fear death by water. yet he cannot find it in his
in section and is future. Death perhaps Tarot is card
tense. I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring .of natural
And I was frightened. He said, Marie, indicative of the root of symbolic symbolizing rebirth
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. the divide and waste reciprocity.
Antithetical to imagery of waste land.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
land to come.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
Frightened of metaphorical descent . Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
People rely on religion or
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. superstition to get them
One must be so careful these days. through the day, but do not
What are the roots that clutch, what Stillbranches
striving for grow
warmth. Allusion to Dante’s truly believe in it. Irony,
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,Further descent? Inferno, Imagery of Sardonic tone.
Life is meaningless, yet we are
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only Change in perspective Unreal City,hell. Change in perspective forced to bare the burden of
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
Biblical allusion to Isaiah Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, Ensconced by a lack of clarity. Seasonal
And the dead tree gives no shelter, thewith “the roots
cricket no which metaphor of winters obscurity.
clutch.” Also Jesus is A crowd fl owed over London Bridge, so many,
relief, Resignation of the optimistic
referred to as the branch. outlook on death begets death
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only Salvation
Christ or lack thereof I had not thought death had undone so many. itself. Death is the only
Blea through a Messiah
There is shadow under this red rock, salvation for those willing to
k Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
(Come in under the shadow of this red Diction rock),of live in our dead world.
realit We no Image of a dead hoard flowing
y And each man fi xed his eyes before his feet.
And I will show you something different from
desert either longer trust
waste across the London Bridge.
land. our savior
Your shadow at morning striding behind you Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, Together yet isolate
Symbolic ignorance is
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; our only relief. To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hoursMoving toward a church with
I will show you fear in a handful of dust. what could be considered a death
Idealism of youth. With a dead sound on the fi nal stroke of nine.march.
Frisch weht der Wind
Speaker gives perspective to the reader. There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: “Stetson!
Der Heimat zu
Veiled allusion to WWI?
Mein Irisch Kind, Death as something to be desired.
“You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
Ancient battle
Wo weilest du? Literal fear of dust of “That corpse you planted last year in your garden, between Rome and
waste land and Carthage.
“You gave me hyacinths first a year
“Tristan ago;
in His Soul” Morbid kind of rebirth. Or
current reality. “Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? transindental rebirth
“They called me the hyacinth German Opera
girl.” Biblical idea of dust to
through plants. guilt of
Or blooming
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth dust. He will teach “Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
you death is not death caused in war, and
garden, something to be “Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men, therefore content with
Change in perspective Tristan laments a lost love. waste
Love is Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not desired. Fear ofland blindness
comradery and
“Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!
her Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither Sweet wind begets thereby salvation. Or
identity comradery and love “You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!” wishes not to disturb
A tragedy to be desired? natural cycle of death.
Past Or apprehension of better Quote from Botilaire, we are all in
tense, future to come “You hypocrite reader, my reflection, my brother.”
this hell together.
likely a

In the first section of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” Eliot explores the
Waste Land of the modern day and the grossly pathetic monotony which we have
espoused so as to shield ourselves from the depressing reality within which we
live. In the epigraph of the poem, one will start by noticing that it is in four
languages and tells the story of some children's encounter of the Sibyl. This will
begin to hint at the reason it is known in many circles as a collage poem, or one
which often seems disjointed at times with unclear changes in perspective, and a
veritable plethora of languages often mushed together in a less than coherent
manner. It is important to know that this is absolutely intentional and is but one
in a number of subliminal facets of the poem which are critical in the profound
divisions which have emerged in our society. In this first encounter with the
Sibyl the children ask what the Sibyl want, and it responds by saying, “I want to
die.” Now this begins to hint a recurrent theme which emerges a number of
times throughout this first installment of the waste land, and that is the idea of
death, not as a bad thing, and rather something to be desired, if for no other
reason than an ultimate relief.
As the poem begins the narrator begins by claiming, “April is the cruelest
month,/ breeding Lilacs out of the dead land.” Now this is an odd claim to be
sure for a number of reasons, all centering around the common perception of
April or in truth spring as a whole, as the season of life, and biblically speaking
rebirth. And one will notice that Eliot is not taking an antithetical point of view
saying that it “breeds Lilacs,” even if it is a somewhat backhanded statement as
he continues with, “out of dead ground.” Most see this also as an allusion to the
Canterbury tales in which they also talk about April showers as he will later
refer. As the poem continues Eliot then talks about how these stir “memory and
desire” as if we are longing for something which we lost, which is then clarified
in the very next line when the narrator says, “stirring dull roots with spring
rain.” Here we see once again the idea of spring rebirth and yet it is to no avail,
the waste land in which we live does not breed rebirth which could be construed
to have biblical implications with a Christ rebirth story and as such a lack of
redemption within our world. Next we see that the spring is cruel as it sheds
light upon this truth, and as such we are far more contented with the ignorant
bliss of winter. In theory “kept warm… by forgetful snow.” In the final line of
this section this idea is further compounded with the phrase, “A little life with
dried tubers,” which is clearly an implicit paradox as dried tubers are not alive.
However, if we are to see life not as a literal life but rather as a kind of salvation,
we can see that this further compounds the idea that death is perhaps something

The woman on whom this is centering first describes the beauty of a
summer’s day and speaks of the showers which are no longer seen as a
deprecating reminder of harsh realities but of the fantastic representation
of the life in the present of which she is a part. Aside from this she also
“sips coffee,” and “talks for an hour,” a notable human interaction which is
largely antithetical to the isolation of the waste land which we have already
seen and which will continue to remain a theme throughout the poem.
Once again here there is another harsh interruption to the story as a line in
German surfaces saying what translates to, I am not Russian; I am
Lithuanian, a true German. As I already briefly mentioned, the way in
which Elliot uses the somewhat discordant tone of his poem is to convey the
way in which we are divided and isolated people lacking community. To this
end, with this phrase not only bluntly interrupting the talk of conversation
with a different language which is prone to jar the reader, it also strongly
identifies with a nationalistic identity which is becoming a further division.
Also, it should be noted that this was written shortly after WWI which
carries ramifications both with the way in which the world was fractured,
the way in which his memory could be of before the war, and the rational
behind many of his quotes in German. Following this, the poem returns to
Marie, however it goes backward in time to the winter in which it tells the
story of her sledding with her cousin. Here as they descend down the
slopes, they, similar to the previous passage, slowly go into the symbolic
death and barrenness of winter. However even in spite of this there are two
notable changes in this context: first she is not alone to face the winter, and
second it talks about going south in the winter. This second point is
particularly relevant because this refusal to cede to the dominion,
ignorance, and death of winter is what is truly being reminisced about.
More than anything else, it is the will to combat the ignorance of winter
which they have lost in our current waste land, and it is this which they
most desire to have once again.
After the conclusion of this memory, it seems that the poem has
returned to the rather cynical omnipotent voice which began it all with the
phrase, “What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow/ Out of this
stony rubbish?” Given context, one will recognize that this is a biblical
allusion to Isaiah in which the “the roots that clutch” are a symbol for life,
and when the speaker asks his rhetorical question he is in effect saying that
there is no hope of salvation, or hope of life. This idea is further

claiming that all he knows is “a heap of broken images,” or a broken religion in
the face of the dystopian world in which they live. From here the speaker
continues to lament the complete lack of salvation within the waste land, from
the oppressive silence to the beating sun, all of which revolve around the
continued theme of loneliness and isolation in the current waste land of our
existence. And yet, at the end of this list, he says that there is one source of
relief, and that is the shadow beneath a red rock, this clearly once again
constituting that same type of denial and rejection of reality and the idea that
this is truly their only escape. Following this the perspective changes once
again, this time repeating the previous line from the point of view of a speaker
coaxing him beneath the rock. The figure then says,
“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.”
In essence what the figure is saying here is that he will give the listener a
broader perspective beyond one which is simply always aware of death. The last
line of the four, “I will show you fear in a handful of dust,” is a metaphor with the
double meaning that he will give the perspective to fear the literal yet figurative
waste land, and also brings to bear the idea of dust to dust as in Genesis of the
Bible, and thereby he will teach you to fear death.
The following quote is one from a German opera Tristan in his Soul where
Tristan laments the loss of his love. In this way through the following section
Elliot gives once again the listener a taste of a memory in which life was better
because of the pain. To clarify, in the following section a young woman talks of
how the love she felt defined her, and yet with that loss she felt awful and yet it
was a despair which looked for repair and one which sought ignorance and
isolation. As such, in that desire for human interaction, it was already a better
The next section is one in which a person comes across a famous
clairvoyant who has become ill yet is still most respected woman in Europe.
Now there are a number of points to be derived from this section, foremost
among them the way in which she is once again a prophet who has fallen on
hard times and is no longer trusted. In this way, she further symbolizes the way
in which people have refused to espouse the ideals of hope, redemption, and
Christ, and have rather opted to confront their collective sin with denial and
refusal to confront their trespasses.

We are all slowly enduring the insufferable monotony of our respective lives,
all the while hoping and slowly moving towards the inevitable death. The
additional dynamic which Elliot brings to this reality is the comment that we
as a people have stopped seeking out redemption and rebirth for our sins and
after our death as we are so constrained by the proverbial system binding us
to a single-minded line of thought, a death march without deviation to the
church on the other side of London Bridge.

The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne, 77 'Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?' 126
Glowed on the marble, where the glass But O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag - 128
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines It's so elegant
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out So intelligent
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing) 'What shall I do now? What shall I do?'
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra 'I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
Reflecting light upon the table as 'With my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow?
The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it, 'What shall we ever do?'
From satin cases poured in rich profusion. The hot water at ten.
In vials of ivory and coloured glass And if it rains, a closed car at four.
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes, And we shall play a game of chess, 138
Unguent, powdered, or liquid - troubled, confused Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.
When Lil's husband got demobbed, I said -
And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air
I didn't mince my words, I said to her myself,
That freshened from the window, these ascended
In fattening the prolonged candle-flames,
Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
Flung their smoke into the laquearia, 92
He'll want to know what you done with that money he gave
Stirring the pattern on the coff ered ceiling. you
Huge sea-wood fed with copper To get herself some teeth. He did, I was there.
Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone, You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,
In which sad light a carvèd dolphin swam. He said, I swear, I can't bear to look at you.
Above the antique mantel was displayed And no more can't I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene 98 He's been in the army for four years, he wants a good time,
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king 99 And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said.
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale 100 Oh is there, she said. Something o' that, I said.
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice Then I'll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight
And still she cried, and still the world pursues, look.
'Jug Jug' to dirty ears. HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME
And other withered stumps of time If you don't like it you can get on with it, I said.
Were told upon the walls; staring forms Others can pick and choose if you can't.
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed. But if Albert makes off, it won't be for a lack of telling.
Footsteps shuffl ed on the stair. You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair (And her only thirty-one.)
Spread out in fiery points I can't help it, she said, pulling a long face,
It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.
(She's had five already, and nearly died of young George.)
'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
The chemist said it would be all right, but I've never been
'Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.
the same.
'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
You are a proper fool, I said.
'I never know what you are thinking. Think.'
Well, if Albert won't leave you alone, there it is, I said,
I think we are in rats' alley 115 What you get married for if you don't want children?
Where the dead men lost their bones. HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME
'What it that noise?' Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,
The wind under the door. 118 And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot -
'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?' HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME
Nothing again nothing. HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME
'Do Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.
'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
remember Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night,
'Nothing?' good night. 172
I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.

77. Cf. Antony and Cleopatra, II. ii. 190.
This passage is reminiscent of the description of Imogen's bedroom in Cymbeline, which
also mentions Cupids.

92. Laquearia. V. Aeneid, I. 726:
dependent lychni laquearibus aureis incensi, et noctem flammis funalia vincunt.
Laquearia means a "panelled ceiling," and Eliot's note quotes the passage in the Aeneid
that was his source for the word. The passage may be translated: "Blazing torches hang
from the gold-panelled ceiling [laquearibus aureis], and torches conquer the night with
flames." Virgil is describing the banquet given by Dido, queen of Carthage, for Aeneas,
with whom she fell in love.

98. Sylvan scene. V. Milton, Paradise Lost, iv. 140.

99. V. Ovid, Metamorphoses, vi, Philomela.

100. Cf. Part III, l. 204.

115. Cf. Part III, l. 195.

118. Cf. Webster: 'Is the wind in that door still?'

126. Cf. Part I, l. 37, 48.

128. Hamlet's dying words in the Folio text - either a corruption, or actor's revision, of
the speech in the Quarto.

138. Cf. the game of chess in Middleton's Women beware Women.

172. Ophelia's last words in Hamlet, IV v.

The river's tent is broken; the last fingers of leaf Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind Out of the window perilously spread
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed. Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song. 176 On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers, Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest -
I too awaited the expected guest.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of City directors;
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
Departed, have left no addresses.
A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept ...
One of the low on whom assurance sits
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Which are still unreproved, if undesired.
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
While I was fishing in the dull canal
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse Exploring hands encounter no defence;
Musing upon the king my brother's wreck His vanity requires no response,
And on the king my father's death before him. 192 And makes a welcome of indiff erence.
White bodies naked on the low damp ground (And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
And bones cast in a little low dry garret, Enacted on this same divan or bed;
Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year. I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
But at my back from time to time I hear 196 And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring 197 Bestows one final patronising kiss,
Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring. And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit...
O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter 199 She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
And on her daughter Hardly aware of her departed lover;
They wash their feet in soda water Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
Et O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la coupole! 'Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.'
202 When lovely woman stoops to folly and 253
Twit twit twit Paces about her room again, alone,
Jug jug jug jug jug jug She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
So rudely forc'd.
And puts a record on the gramophone.
'This music crept by me upon the waters' 257
Unreal City
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
Under the brown fog of a winter noon
O City city, I can sometimes hear
Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
C.i.f. London: documents at sight, 210
And a clatter and a chatter from within
Asked me in demotic French
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel
Of Magnus Martyr hold 264
Followed by a weekend at the Metropole.
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.
At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
The river sweats 266
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Oil and tar
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives, 218 The barges drift
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see With the turning tide
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives Red sails
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea, 221 Wide
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights

To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.

The barges wash

Drifting logs

Down Greenwich reach

Past the Isle of Dogs.

Weialala leia

Wallala leialala

Elizabeth and Leicester 279

Beating oar s

The stern was formed

A gilded shell

Red and gold

The brisk swell

Rippled both shores

Southwest wind

Carried down stream

The peal of bells

White towers

Weialala leia

Wallala leialala

'Trams and dusty trees.

Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew 293

Undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees

Supine on the fl oor of a narrow canoe.'

'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. 301

I can connect

Nothing with nothing.

The broken fi ngernails of dirty hands.

My people humble people who expect


la la

To Carthage then I came 307

Burning burning burning burning 308

O Lord Thou pluckest me out 309

O Lord Thou pluckest

176. V. Spenser, Prothalamion.

192. Cf. The Tempest, I. ii.

196. Cf. Marvell, To His Coy Mistress.

197. Cf. Day, Parliament of Bees:
When of the sudden, listening, you shall hear,
A noise of horns and hunting, which shall bring
Actaeon to Diana in the spring,
Where all shall see her naked skin...

199. I do not know the origin of the ballad from which these lines are taken: it was reported to me from Sydney, Australia.

202. And oh, the sound of children, singing in the cupola!
V. Verlaine, Parsifal.

210. The currants were quoted at a price 'carriage and insurance free to London'; and the Bill of Lading, etc., were to be handed to
the buyer upon payment of the sight draft.

218. Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a 'character', is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all
the rest. Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from
Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the
substance of the poem. The whole passage from Ovid is of great anthropological interest:

Translate...Cum Iunone iocos et 'maior vestra profecto est
Quam, quae contingit maribus', dixisse, 'voluptas.'
Illa negat; placuit quae sit sententia docti
Quaerere Tiresiae: venus huic erat utraque nota.
Nam duo magnorum viridi coeuntia silva
Corpora serpentum baculi violaverat ictu
Deque viro factus, mirabile, femina septem
Egerat autumnos; octavo rursus eosdem
Vidit et 'est vestrae si tanta potentia plagae',
Dixit 'ut auctoris sortem in contraria mutet,
Nunc quoque vos feriam!' percussis anguibus isdem
Forma prior rediit genetivaque venit imago.
Arbiter hic igitur sumptus de lite iocosa
Dicta Iovis firmat; gravius Saturnia iusto
Nec pro materia fertur doluisse suique
Iudicis aeterna damnavit lumina nocte,
At pater omnipotens (neque enim licet inrita cuiquam
Facta dei fecisse deo) pro lumine adempto
Scire futura dedit poenamque levavit honore.

. . . Jove, they say, was happy
And feeling pretty good (with wine) forgetting
Anxiety and care, and killing time
Joking with Juno. "I maintain," he told her
"You females get more pleasure out of loving
Than we poor males do, ever." She denied it,
So they decided to refer the question
To wise Tiresias’ judgment: he should know

What love was like, from either point of view.
Once he had come upon two serpents mating
In the green woods, and struck them from each other,
And thereupon, from man was turned into woman,
And was a woman seven years, and saw
The serpents once again, and once more struck them
Apart, remarking: "If there is such magic
In giving you blows, that man is turned into woman,
It may be that woman is turned to man. Worth trying."
And so he was a man again; as umpire,
He took the side of Jove. And Juno
Was a bad loser, and she said that umpires
Were always blind, and made him so forever.
No god can over-rule another’s action,
But the Almighty Father, out of pity,
In compensation, gave Tiresias power
To know the future, so there was some honor
Along with punishment.

Ovid, Metamorphoses (translated by Rolphe Humphries): The Story of Tiresias, Book III, Lines 318 -343

221. This may not appear as exact as Sappho's lines, but I had in mind the 'longshore' or 'dory' fi sherman, who returns at nightfall.

253. V. Goldsmith, the song in The Vicar of Wakefield.

257. V. The Tempest, as above.

264. The interior of St. Magnus Martyr is to my mind one of the finest among Wren's interiors. See The Proposed Demolition of Nineteen
City Churches (P. S. King & Son, Ltd.).

266. The Song of the (three) Thames-daughters begins here. From line 292 to 306 inclusive they speak in turn. V. Götterdammerung, III. i:
The Rhine-daughters.

279. V. Froude, Elizabeth, vol. I, ch. iv, letter of De Quadra to Philip of Spain:
In the afternoon we were in a barge, watching the games on the river. (The queen) was alone with Lord Robert and myself on the poop,
when they began to talk nonsense, and went so far that Lord Robert at last said, as I was on the spot there was no reason why they should
not be married if the queen pleased.

293. Cf. Purgatorio, V. 133:
'Ricorditi di me, che son la Pia;
Siena mi fe', disfecemi Maremma.'

301.In October 1921 Eliot was in Margate, recuperating from mental exhaustion.

307. V. St. Augustine's Confessions : 'to Carthage then I came, where a cauldron of unholy loves sang all about mine ears'.

308. The complete text of the Buddha's Fire Sermon (which corresponds in importance to the Sermon on the Mount) from which these
words are taken, will be found translated in the late Henry Clarke Warren's Buddhism in Translation (Harvard Oriental Series). Mr. Warren
was one of the great pioneers of Buddhist studies in the Occident.
In the sermon, the Buddha instructs his priests that all things "are on fire. . . The eye. . . is on fi re; forms are on fire; eye-consciousness is
on fi re; impressions received by the eye are on fire; and whatever sensation, pleasant, unpleasant, or indiff erent, originates in dependence
on impressions received by the eye, that also is on fire. And with what are these on fire? With the fi re of passion, say I, with the fire of
hatred, with the fire of infatuation."

309. From St. Augustine's Confessions again. The collocation of these two representatives of eastern and western asceticism, as the
culmination of this part of the poem, is not an accident.

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passes the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as

This section is a version of the last seven
lines of Eliot's earlier poem, Dans le

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces Ringed by the flat horizon only
After the frosty silence in the gardens What is the city over the mountains
After the agony in stony places Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
The shouting and the crying Falling towers
Prison and palace and reverberation Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains Vienna London
He who was living is now dead Unreal
We who were living are now dying A woman drew her long black hair out tight
With a little patience And fiddled whisper music on those strings
Here is no water but only rock And bats with baby faces in the violet light
Rock and no water and the sandy road Whistled, and beat their wings
The road winding above among the mountains And crawled head downward down a blackened wall
Which are mountains of rock without water And upside down in air were towers
If there were water we should stop and drink Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand wells.
If there were only water amongst the rock In this decayed hole among the mountains
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Here one can neither stand not lie nor sit Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is not even silence in the mountains There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
But dry sterile thunder without rain It has no windows, and the door swings,
There is not even solitude in the mountains Dry bones can harm no one.
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl Only a cock stood on the rooftree
From doors of mudcracked houses Co co rico co co rico 392
If there were water In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
And no rock Bringing rain
If there were rock Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
And also water Waited for rain, while the black clouds
And water Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
A spring The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
A pool among the rock Then spoke the thunder
If there were the sound of water only DA
Not the cicada Datta: what have we given? 401
And dry grass singing My friend, blood shaking my heart
But sound of water over a rock The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees Which an age of prudence can never retract
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop 357 By this, and this only, we have existed
But there is no water Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Who is the third who walks always beside you? Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider 407
When I count, there are only you and I together 360 Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
But when I look ahead up the white road In our empty rooms
There is always another one walking beside you DA
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
I do not know whether a man or a woman Turn in the door once and turn once only 411
- But who is that on the other side of you? We think of the key, each in his prison
What is that sound high in the air 366 thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
Murmur of maternal lamentation Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours
Who are those hooded hordes swarming Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth DA
Damyata: The boat responded

Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar

The sea was calm, your heart would have responded

Gaily, when invited, beating obedient

To controlling hands

I sat upon the shore

Fishing, with the arid plain behind me 424

Shall I at least set my lands in order?

London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down

Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli aff ina 427

Quando fi am uti chelidon - O swallow swallow 428

Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie 429

These fragments I have shored against my ruins

Why then Ile fi t you. Hieronymo's mad againe. 431

Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. 401

Shantih shantih shantih 433

In the fi rst part of Part V three themes are employed: the journey to Emmaus, the approach to the Chapel Perilous (see Miss Weston's book), and
the present decay of eastern Europe.

357. This is Turdus aonalaschkae pallasii, the hermit-thrush which I have heard in Quebec County. Chapman says (Handbook of Birds in Eastern
North America) 'it is most at home in secluded woodland and thickety retreats.... Its notes are not remarkable for variety or volume, but in purity
and sweetness of tone and exquisite modulation they are unequalled.' Its 'water-dripping song' is justly celebrated.

360. The following lines were stimulated by the account of one of the Antarctic expeditions (I forget which, but I think one of Shackleton's): it
was related that the party of explorers, at the extremity of their strength, had the constant delusion that there was one more member than could
actually be counted.

I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me
often that we were four, not three.

Ernest Shackleton, South; reprinted in Roland Huntford, Shackleton

366-76. Cf. Hermann Hesse, Blick ins Chaos:

Schon ist halb Europa, schon ist zumindest der halbe Osten Europas auf dem Wege zum Chaos, fährt betrunken im heiligen Wahn am Abgrund
entlang und singt dazu, singt betrunken und hymnisch wie Dmitri Karamasoff sang. Ueber diese Lieder lacht der Bürger beleidigt, der Heilige
und Seher hört sie mit Tränen.

Already half of Europe, already at least half of Eastern Europe, on the way to Chaos, drives drunk in sacred infatuation along the edge of the
precipice, sings drunkenly, as though hymn singing, as Dmitri Karamazov [in Dostoyevski's Brothers Karamazov] sang. The offended bourgeois
laughs at the songs; the saint and the seer hear them with tears.

392. The French version of 'cock a doodle doo'

401. 'Datta, dayadhvam, damyata' (Give, sympathize, control). The fable of the meaning of the Thunder is found in the Brihadaranyaka--
Upanishad, 5, 1. A translation is found in Deussen's Sechzig Upanishads des Veda, p. 489.

The Hindu fable referred to is that of gods, men, and demons each in turn asking of their father Prajapati, "Speak to us, O Lord." To each he
replied with the one syllable "DA," and each group interpreted it in a different way: "Datta," to give alms; "Dayadhvam," to have compassion;
"Damyata," to practice self-control. The fable concludes, "This is what the divine voice, the Thunder, repeats when he says: DA, DA, DA: 'Control
yourselves; give alms; be compassionate.' Therefore one should practice these three things: self-control, alms-giving, and compassion."

407. Cf. Webster, The White Devil, V, vi:

...they'll remarry

Ere the worm pierce your winding-sheet, ere the spider

Make a thin curtain for your epitaphs.

411. Cf. Dante's Inferno, xxxiii. 46:

ed io sentii chiavar l'uscio di sotto

all'orribile torre.

Also H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, p. 346:

My external sensations are no less private to myself than are my thoughts or my feelings. In either case my experience falls within my own
circle, a circle closed on the outside; and, with all its elements alike, every sphere is opaque to the others which surround it.... In brief, regarded
as an existence which appears in a soul, the whole world for each is peculiar and private to that soul.

424. V. Weston, From Ritual to Romance; chapter on the Fisher King.

427. V. Purgatorio, xxvi. 148.

'Ara vos prec per aquella valor

'que vos guida al som de l'escalina,

'sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor.'

Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina.

428. V. Pervigilium Veneris. Cf. Philomela in Parts II and III.

The Latin phrase in the text means, "When shall I be as the swallow?" It comes from the Pervigilium Veneris (Vigil of Venus), an anonymous late
Latin poem combining a hymn to Venus with a description of spring. In the last two stanzas of the Pervigilium occurs a recollection of the Tereus-
Procne-Philomela myth (except that in this version the swallow is identified with Philomela); the anonymous poet's mood changes to one of
sadness, combined with hope for renewal: "The maid of Tereus sings under the poplar shade, so that you would think musical trills of love came
from her mouth and not a sister's complaint of a barbarous husband. . . . She sings, we are silent. When will my spring come? When shall I be as
the swallow that I may cease to be silent? I have lost the Muse in silence, and Apollo regards me not." Cf. Swinburne's Itylus, which begins,
"Swallow, my sister, O sister swallow,/ How can thine heart be full of spring?" and Tennyson's lyric in The Princess: "O Swallow, Swallow, flying,
flying south."

429. The Prince of Aquitaine to the ruined tower
(21st Century)

Philosophy which
basically asserts that
the depth of what we
Don't be misled: from the far nether regions. can truly understand is
that sea-song you hearRejection of novelty And life will continue— within our own mind.
and fantastical
when the shell's at your ear?
explanation but only within you.
It's all in your head.
Which raises a question

That primordial tide— We are meant to
the slurp and salt-slosh Themes mentioned that comes up again and again, appreciate the grandeur
later are as a direct of the universe not be
of the brain's briny wash—
result of evolutionary as to why
relegated to our own
is on the inside. self preservation God would make ear and eye personal harsh reality.
Asks a rhetorical question
to face outward, not in? which is critical of
Truth be told, the whole place, aforementioned mentality.
everything that the eye God is an uninsurable
can take in, to the sky This unilaterally tracked line
of though does exist
standard of truth.

and beyond into space, exclusively within our own
lives inside of your skull.
Our perception drives an
When you set your sad head arbitrary conformity we
down on Procrustes' bed,superimpose on the world.
Depression due to the implicit limitations
you lay down the whole superimposed onto the world.
Cosmos being cut down into conformity.
universe. You recline
on the pillow: the cosmos
Lack of
grows dim. The soft ghost
comprehension of a
in the squishy machine, world beyond

which the world is, retires.
Literal sleep
Someday it will expire.
Then all will go silent
and dark. For the moment,

however, the black-
ness is just temporary.
The planet you carry
will shortly swing back

In Troy Jolliemore’s poem “The Solipsist,” Jolliemore takes an in-depth look at the
philosophical perspective of Solipsism and the larger overarching role which it plays
in the fundamentally flawed perspective which so many in our world espouse.
Solipsism as a philosophy is, in short, a philosophical perspective which says that
we can never truly understand anything beyond our immediate being. As such it
should come as no surprise that the poem begins with a speaker saying to the
reader, “Don’t be misled,/ that sea-song you hear/ when the shell's at your ear?/ It's
all in your head.” In this way, the speaker seems to feel that he is protecting the
reader from a flawed assumption. The specific example which is used in the poem
of the “sea-song” of a shell also adds the subliminal dynamic of the truth which will
be unveiled throughout the poem as a sad one which combats an almost fanciful
The poem largely continues in this vein with enjambment to disorient the
reader, and dejected diction to convey the mood. The latter of these is clearly
displayed in the fourth stanza in which the image of the depressed individual
gleaning this knowledge lays his head to sleep. More specifically what Jolliemore
says in the poem is, “When you set your sad head/ down on Procrustes' bed.” Now
Procrustes’ Bed is an allusion to a particularly brutal Greek myth in which
Procrustes would kill his victims my strapping them to an iron bed, and then for
those too tall cutting off limbs so that they would fit, and for those too short,
brutally stretching them until they fit the arbitrary size. In the context of this poem
the meaning of the reference is pretty clearly apparent with Jolliemore in essence
saying that if we superimpose the arbitrary standard of our individualized
perception we are forcing a narrowness onto something which is truly vast and
beautiful. To this end Jolliemore continues with the image of the world being
silenced as the listener goes to sleep and what he considers the mortality of the
earth. Or in essence the rather egotistical perspective that the world will cease to
exist after one’s death. Then to conclude the poem Jolliemore says that this does
invariably lead to a question, “God would make ear and eye/ to face outward, not
in?” With this Jolliemore in essence states that God, the infallible standard of truth,
made us not to be so self-involved and egotistical as to fail to appreciate the majesty
and fantastic grandeur of the universe.
With this poem Jolliemore critics not so much the philosophy of solipsism but
rather what it stands for within our culture. And that is the egotistical self-
involvement which makes us neglect all of the beauty within our world.

Парус The Sail

Белеет парус одинокий A lonely sail is flashing white
В тумане моря голубом!.. Amidst the blue mist of the sea!...
Что ищет он в стране далекой? What does it seek in foreign
Что кинул он в краю родном?..
What did it leave behind at
Играют волны - ветер свищет,
И мачта гнется и скрыпит... Waves heave, wind whistles,
Увы, - он счастия не ищет The mast, it bends and creaks...
И не от счастия бежит! Alas, it seeks not happiness
Nor happiness does it escape!
Под ним струя светлей лазури,
Над ним луч солнца золотой... Below, a current azure bright,
А он, мятежный, просит бури, Above, a golden ray of sun...
Как будто в бурях есть покой! Rebellious, it seeks out a storm
As if in storms it could find

Loneliness of isolation in exile White flag perhaps of surrender,

A lonely sail is flashing white
Amidst the blue mist of the sea!...
Tranquil and
setting does it seek in foreign lands? Wonders what he may have
Poem reflects the gained or lost as he sails to
introspection of the What did it leave behind at home?.. unknown shores.
writer and as such the
building tension reflects
the writers building
discontent with current Waves heave, wind whistles,
system. Onomatopoeia
The mast, it bends and creaks...
Alas, it seeks not happiness
Nor happiness does it escape!
Tempo builds to the Enjambment
desire for a storm, the
desire for a revolution.
Below, a current azure bright,
Above, a golden ray of sun...
Rebellious, it seeks out a storm Discontent with the current political
structure and feel that there is need
As if in storms it could find peace! for a change, likely through

To truly understand Lermontov’s poem “The Sail,” it is important to
understand the historical context behind the work. This poem was written
following the death of Alexander Pushkin, and the defeat of the
Decembrists’ revolution of 1825. As such “The Sail” was written in an era
of extreme prejudice and censorship of the arts. Lermontov was himself
exiled twice due to the inflammatory nature of his works with this being
written briefly after the first of the two as he begins to reflect on what is
next. Though one would naturally assume that the poem is about a sail
upon the ocean, the actuality this was written in reference to one of
Lermontov’s own paintings of a ship braving the ocean. As such, this
poem has a lot to do with the poet’s own somewhat bipolar introspection.
As the poem begins Lermontov is reflecting on a rather tranquil
scene, “A lonely sail,” likely indicative of his exile, “is flashing white”
perhaps a fear of surrender in the face of a kind of lost reality, “Amidst the
blue mist of the sea,” this referring to the uncertainty and ambiguity of his
future. In the next two lines he asks rhetorically, “What does it seek in
foreign lands? /What did it leave behind at home?” And here it is clear that
he is symbolically the flag and is reflecting on what the future may hold.
In the next two stanzas, there is a definitive change in the tone of
the work as it transitions into a far more active and slightly discontent
voice which is accomplished by using enjambment to disorient the reader,
onomatopoeia to set a distinct tone, and quicker more abrupt breaks to
quicken the speed at which it is read. Through this shift the poem
translates the discontent the poet experiences in his introspection, and
how that discontent and thirst for rebellion feeds his soul.
Though brief “The Sail” shows one part of the true vigor, spirit of
revolution, and institutional critique, which is present in so many of
Lermontov’s works.

Погиб поэт! - невольник чести- Зачем от мирных нег и дружбы простодушной
Пал, оклеветанный молвой, Вступил он в этот свет завистливый и душный
С свинцом в груди и жаждой мести, Для сердца вольного и пламенных страстей?
Поникнув гордой головой!..
Зачем он руку дал клеветникам ничтожным,
Не вынесла душа поэта
Зачем поверил он словам и ласкам ложным,
Позора мелочных обид,
Он, с юных лет постигнувший людей?...
Восстал он против мнений света
Один, как прежде... и убит!
Убит!.. к чему теперь рыданья, И прежний сняв венок - они венец терновый,
Пустых похвал ненужный хор Увитый лаврами, надели на него:
И жалкий лепет оправданья? Но иглы тайные сурово
Судьбы свершился приговор! Язвили славное чело;
Не вы ль сперва так злобно гнали Отравлены его последние мгновенья
Его свободный, смелый дар Коварным шепотом насмешливых невежд,
И для потехи раздували
И умер он - с напрасной жаждой мщенья,
Чуть затаившийся пожар?
С досадой тайною обманутых надежд.
Что ж? веселитесь... - он мучений
Последних вынести не мог:
Замолкли звуки чудных песен,
Угас, как светоч, дивный гений, Не раздаваться им опять:
Увял торжественный венок. Приют певца угрюм и тесен,
И на устах его печать.
Его убийца хладнокровно
Навел удар... спасенья нет: _____
Пустое сердце бьется ровно, А вы, надменные потомки
В руке не дрогнул пистолет.
Известной подлостью прославленных отцов,
И что за диво?... издалека,
Пятою рабскою поправшие обломки
Подобный сотням беглецов,
Игрою счастия обиженных родов!
На ловлю счастья и чинов
Заброшен к нам по воле рока; Вы, жадною толпой стоящие у трона,
Смеясь, он дерзко презирал Свободы, Гения и Славы палачи!
Земли чужой язык и нравы; Таитесь вы под сению закона,
Не мог щадить он нашей славы; Пред вами суд и правда - всё молчи!
Не мог понять в сей миг кровавый, Но есть и божий суд, наперсники разврата!
На что он руку поднимал!.. Есть грозный суд: он ждет;
Он не доступен звону злата,
И он убит - и взят могилой,
И мысли, и дела он знает наперед.
Как тот певец, неведомый, но милый,
Тогда напрасно вы прибегнете к злословью:
Добыча ревности глухой,
Оно вам не поможет вновь,
Воспетый им с такою чудной силой,
Сраженный, как и он, безжалостной рукой. И вы не смоете всей вашей черной кровью
Поэта праведную кровь!

The Poet's dead! - a slave to honor - Why did he quit the blissful peace of simple fellowship

He fell, by rumor slandered, To enter this society, so envious and stifling

Lead in his breast and thirsting for revenge, To hearts of free and fi ery passion?
Hanging his proud head!... Why did he give his hand to worthless slanderers,
The Poet's soul could not endure How could he have believed their hollow words
Petty insult's disgrace.
And kindness, he, who'd ever understood his fellow man?...
Against society he rose,
Alone, as always...and was slain!
And they removed his wreath, and set upon his head
Slain!...What use is weeping now,
The futile chorus of empty praise A crown of thorns entwined in laurel:

Excuses mumbled full of pathos? The hidden spines were cruel

Fate has pronounced its sentence! And pierced his noble brow;
Was it not you who spitefully Poisoned were his fi nal moments
Rebuffed his free, courageous gift By sly insinuations of mockers ignorant,
And for your own amusement fanned
And thus he died - for vengeance vainly thirsting
The nearly dying flame?
Secretly vexed by false hopes deceived.
Well now, enjoy yourselves...he couldn't
The wondrous singing's ceased,
Endure the final torture:
Quenched is the marvelous light of genius, T'will never sound again.

Withered is the triumphal wreath. His refuge, gloomy and small,

His lips forever sealed.
Cold-bloodedly his murderer _____
Took aim...there was no chance of flight:
And you, the off spring arrogant
His empty heart beat evenly,
Of fathers known for malice,
The pistol steady in his hand.
Crushing with slavish heels the ruins
No wonder...from far away
Of clans aggrieved by fortune's game!
The will of fate sent him to us
Like hundreds of his fellow vagrants You, greedy hordes around the throne,

In search of luck and rank; Killers of Freedom, Genius and Glory!
With impudence he mocked and scorned You hide beneath the canopy of law
The tongue and mores of this strange land; Fall silent - truth and justice before you...
He could not spare our glory,
But justice also comes from God, corruption's friends!
Nor in that bloody moment know
The judge most terrible awaits you:
"gainst what he'd raised his hand!...
He's hardened to the clink of gold,

He's slain - and taken by the grave He knows your future thoughts and deeds.

Like that unknown, but happy bard, Then will you turn in vain to lies:

Victim of jealousy wild, They will no longer help.

Of whom he sang with wondrous power, And your black blood won't wash away

Struck down, like him, by an unyielding hand. The poet's sacred blood!

Oh my name it ain't nothin'
His message The Germans now, too
My age it means less transcends himself Have God on their side
and his era.
The country I come from I've learned to hate the Russians
Is called the Midwest
All through my whole life
First introduction of
I was taught and brought up there Further indoctrination
recurring theme in If another war comes
The laws to abide
positive terms. It's them we must fight
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side To hate them and fear them

Oh, the history books tell itOne sided biased dialogue To run and to hide
which is bordering in a
They tell it so well And accept it all bravely
fictitiously fanciful recount
The cavalries charged of events. With God on my side First signs of
The Indians fell inhibitions from the
But now we got weapons narrator.
The cavalries charged Repetition to drive home God on “My” side,
Of chemical dust
The Indians died point. seeks reassurance
If fire them, we're forced to for his own
Oh, the country was young
With God on its side Then fire, them we must Nuclear Weapons
vindication .
The Spanish-American One push of the button
War had its day And a shot the world wide
History of America told through its wars.
And the Civil War, too And you never ask questions
Was soon laid away
When God's on your side
And the names of the heroes
Through many a dark hour
I was made to memorize
With guns in their handsIndoctrinating education. I've been thinkin' about this

And God on their side That Jesus Christ was
The First World War, boys Betrayed by a kiss
It came and it went But I can't think for you
The reason for fighting
You'll have to decide
I never did get Ambiguous war we Did Judas not think himself
Whether Judas Iscariot
BuAccept it with pride should never have justified in his actions.
been in, but accepted Had God on his side.
For you don't count the dead because of blind
When God's on your side nationalism. So now as I'm leavin'

The Second World War I'm weary as Hell
Came to an end The confusion I'm feelin'
We forgave the Germans Ain't no tongue can tell
And then we were friends Perhaps the wars we A truly good God would not
waged had duplicitous The words fill my head
t I learned to accept it mandate such death on his
motives. And fall to the floor behalf.
Though they murdered six million
That if God's on our side
In the ovens they fried If we are all truly right, there
He'll stop the next war should be no need for conflict.

In Bob Dylan’s song, “With God on Our Side,” he explores the
fundamental question on which almost all of the most abhorrent acts in
history have hinged, whether the end does in fact justify the means. To
approach this issue Dylan comes at the question from the perspective of
a young man whose specific identity and era are irrelevant, as he is
approaching an innate human quandary transcending a veritable
plethora of cultural identities and eras. Throughout the poem Dylan
goes chronologically through the history of the USA from the perspective
of each of the wars we took part in, and repeats the phrase, “With God
on Our Side.” This is meant to symbolize an objective standard of truth
and innate rightness throughout the poem.

To this end in the second section of the poem Dylan begins to
describe the slaughter of the Native Americans by the cavalries and
justifies their actions by saying that they had “God on their side.”
Naturally we now equate this slaughter as one of the most egregious
atrocities in history, yet as Dylan points out they naturally felt righteous
in their actions, justifying war through flawed perceptions, and casting a
dark mark onto the history of our country. Continuing this theme Dylan
then mentions the Spanish American War and the Civil War then says,
“And the names of the heroes I was made to memorize/ With guns in
their hands/ And God on their side.” This line speaks to what some
might be inclined to call indoctrination of the youth of our country to the
culture of war and death which we have become accustomed to. Next
Dylan moves to WWI and the ambiguities involved saying, “It came and it
went/ The reason for fighting/ I never did get,” yet naturally he accepts
the action, because in his words, “God on his side.” Here clearly this
phrase is indicative of far more than simply religious belief, however
arguable it is just that, however in this instance it is the blind faith which
people are placing in the government and the infallible warring culture
which it espouses. As the song continues he then moves on to WWII as

With this the song begins to shows that the God on our side is in truth
nothing more than the arbitrary decision making of a very human
element. Though the speaker in the song continues to go along with the
decision handed down to him from on high, when the section concludes
the first cracks in his resolve show with the line, “And accept it all
bravely/ With God on my side.” Here not only is “bravely” a sign of his
inhibition, but he says “With God on my side.” as if he feels in need of
some supernatural vindication. The next step in the cycle is the invention
of Nuclear Weaponry and his apprehension becomes slightly more evident
as he describes how easy it would be to end the world, yet none the less
he finally concludes with the line, “And you never ask questions/ When
God's on your side.”
At this point there is undeniably a distinct change in the tone as
Dylan goes into a profound introspection. He then poses the rhetorical
question, “You'll have to decide/ Whether Judas Iscariot/ Had God on his
side.” Now this clearly is the first instance when the division between
what God is, and symbolizes in this poem. With this question Dylan
questions whether Judas did not in fact think himself justified in his
betrayal of Jesus, and ultimately a profoundly sacrilegious action. In this
way Dylan equates actions taken even with complete conviction as those
which can ultimately be evil in spite of good intention. To conclude Dylan
then says, “if God's on our side/ He'll stop the next war.” This conclusion
finally gives voice to the theme which has been hinted at throughout the
entire song, that there is end which justifies the means of war, and that
the fundamentally flawed ideology which was the United States has
espoused since our formation as a nation is not only the vitriolic warring
mentality which we have so fervently supported, but also the naïve belief
that we possess some omnipotent authority of correctness in the decision
we make and the wars that we wage.

Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a
man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't

The answer, my friend, is blowin'
in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
How many roads must a man walk
down Yes, and how many times must a
Before you call him a man? man look up
How many seas must a white dove Before he can see the sky?
sail Yes, and how many ears must one
Before she sleeps in the sand? man have
Yes, and how many times must the Before he can hear people cry?
cannon balls fly Yes, and how many deaths will it
Before they're forever banned? take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in
the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind. The answer, my friend, is blowin'
Yes, and how many years can in the wind
a mountain exist The answer is blowin' in the wind.
Before it is washed to the
Yes, and how many years can
some people exist

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
First introduces sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
dichotomy of the Testing youth perhaps is
American culture and my breath of life, I will confess the same as challenging
American bigotry. him with outdated
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth. philosophies.

Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Further illustrates duplicity
Overwhelming hateme strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
First gives an
I stand
illusion for within her walls with
America not a shred
as a totalitarian One sided idealistic respect.
state. Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead, Further depicts America
as a dictatorship
Looks to see her might and granite wonders there,
the future
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand, Cultural diversity at risk
The previously eluded because of the racism in the
to outdate beliefs priceless treasures sinking in the sand. US
quash all of the
“priceless treasures” of
cultural diversity.

In the poem “America” by Claude McKay, he touches on a number of recurrent
themes which are evident not only throughout his own work, but many of his fellow
artists through the Harlem Renaissance. In the poem, he is lamenting the conflicted
relationship which he shares with America. To this end he juxtaposes the
fundamental racism which he experiences on a daily basis, with unique and fervent
culture within which he lives. This dichotomy is evident in the very first quatrain
when in the first three lines he complains of all of the ways in which the US has
wronged him and then goes on to say, “I will confess/ I love this cultured hell that
tests my youth.” Now even this final line is somewhat backhanded in that the
conflicted natures of his beliefs are clearly evidenced. Now the last part of that line,
“that tests my youth,” is also an important point to take note of as the idea of the
prejudices which he encounters are outdated and from another era.
The next two lines once again echo this duplicity with the way in which he says
that it is America which gives him strength, yet also America which he needs that
strength to fight against. The next five lines also further compound this idea with the
way in which they create the image of America as a kind of totalitarian dictatorship to
be reckoned with. Also, they inspire the image of a very real divide in the society, and
how McKay in this instance does not see himself as a part of this. In the poem, he
goes so far as to refer to himself as “a rebel fronts a king in state.” Now this divide
could be construed as the struggle of African Americans vs the White ruling class,
however McKay then goes on to say, “I stand within her walls with not a shred/ Of
terror, malice, not a word of jeer.” It is here that the reader realizes that McKay’s
focus is not so small as to focus on the simple racial conflict, but rather the
overarching issues of the flawed mentality of America itself. When in this last line
McKay says, “not a word of jeer,” it does show that McKay has a profound respect for
the American ideals which he is fighting for with his poem, however in comparing
America to aged dictatorial empires, he is in effect saying that America is getting
away from all that he respects, and all that makes it great.
In the final four lines McKay casts his gaze to the dark future and says, “And
see her might and granite wonders there.” Once again we see the allusion to an
almost Roman-esque dictatorship which lacks the fundamental ideals which make
America great, and once again we see the idea of a massed body clinging to an
ideology which is fundamentally outdated. Then he says, “Beneath the touch of
Time’s unerring hand/ Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.” This conclusion
to the poem serves to express the fundamental fear which McKay feels about the
future of our country. In essence he is saying that if we continue on our current
trajectory as a nation, the flawed and outdated ideologies which are running our
society will eclipse all of the “treasures,” or diverse and beautiful cultures which
America is home to.

Once I attempted to sit in darkness,

To indulge the systemic pessimism which plagues me at the root of my character,
To rejoice in the emptiness ever ensconcing me in every waking and dreaming hour,
Unperturbed by the superficiality and ever conflicting pretenses of false men.
And what I found did not scare me,
My eyes merely readjusted to the light.
Am I afraid?
Perhaps, and yet in no inordinate terms.
Can facing truth really be more frightening than exploring the ramifications of pre-dispositions
entailed by an alien world.
And thus once again I find myself floundering in a sea of unknowables because of stipulations
which were not of my choosing.
Rules laid down by those characters in the hypothetical meant to contain the monster within us
And perhaps I now know why,
Or is a veil merely shrouding my eyes to see shadows as monsters,
Systematically demonizing our reality by the ever present machine stipulating our existence.
Is society in truth anything more than those afraid of our reality instituting a cage with which to
contain ourselves?
Maybe I am not giving us enough credit,
Perhaps there is an altruism at the root of our nature which I fail to recognize.
And yet I think not,
In the end the self imposed cage of society was not wrought of altruism but fear, and
A facade serving no purpose other than to mask victors and prevent the inevitable struggle for
The figmentations of morality, the prison of our inalienable truth,
The monster, the beast, the savage within.

Up the mountain I do stride,
Friend and foe alike, by my side.
And with such parting grace from the ground,
I bid farewell to all around.

And through such toils as were ever told,
I find myself alone yet bold.
And though my plans were torn asunder,
I forge onward content to blunder.

This all ends as I reach the foot of a peak,
Above loom golden deities I can but hope to seek.
Thus I do ascend the treacherous sloop,
Stones crumbling beneath my feet
Flying to and fro.

With that I approach the epitome of light,
Vane aspirations reveling in delight.
And thus as I refuse to avert my gaze
I am forced to face the bellicose yet gentle rays.

Yet even as I summit the mountain to claim my prize,
I do despair,
Such sorrow caught forever in my eyes,
And I am left in disrepair.

Before me stretched two more roads,
One adorned with unseen summits,
The other merely content to plummet.

And so once again I do descend,
Content to live in whatever end.
And when I reach the bottom I rest,
Content to face the next day’s test.

The next day up the mountain I do stride.
Friend and foe alike by my side.
And with such parting grace from the ground,
I bid farewell to all again

I to have seen such tragic sorrows,
I to lay among fallen men,
I to search for some salvation,
I forever lost within my den.

Stories coax at a light to free me,
And so I cast round countless turn.
Yet darkness impedes my restful vision,
Rest eternal I must learn.

Such fickle fiends do now accompany me,
Haunting sleeping dreaming hour,
These ghouls dancing on my eyelids,
Their taunts and jests having long turned sour.

Yet slowly to do these figments fade,
Replaced instead with decrepit folk.
Unmoving, flinching, standing, breathing,
They merely lay prostate beneath my feet, motionless and broke.

Dare I join their euphoric number,
Content to live in impotent bliss.

I will rage forever.
Even if I am forever lost.

I do not write in the light of day, Justice served? and I ignore it,
Verse bends and is malleable under blinding accusatory Catcalls, slurs, and I ignore it,
rays of light.
Voices for all and voices for none,
I will forever refuse to pay
A cacophony of the indistinguishable,
Those so victimized by the trite.
And so, I ignore it.

I was called forth with pen in hand,
Am I above it?
Twilight’s cusp, of the truth bringer,
And so I sat with the elated band,
Have I reached beyond it?
Till faces drawn saw light extinguished. Do I know more than it?
Lamenting those lost drowning in the shifting sand. Am i Afraid?

To be, and be, and be, and be, I… I have no words,
A monotonous liberation, My verse is done,
To the end of, Cynical truths? Swallowed by branches long gone bare.
I cannot even hope to run,
A day gone by, As ensconced I am by this lair.
A night to write.
Another day, too blinding for sight, Two doors there be,
My refuge, my calm, my darkest light. Of which I see.
To my left an apple is foreset,
Beyond my reckoning,
To my right three angels met.
Wars are won,
Gifts foregone,
And so I stood,
Knowledge undone.
Vexed beyond repair,
But not I. Till whispers played behind my ear,
I seek only, My, simple truth, Beckoning my yearning soul from the glare.
My, inspiration,
My, sleuth. For but a moment of resolve I ignored them,
Doubt cast in white upon my black canvas,
Critique I dole, And I approached the insufferable din…
Compromise I reach,
Consensus draw, from what I preach. Till light too bright for sight forbade me alight, and I
cast myself from the strife.
Unspoiled by the harmonious din,
Uninfected by so many lies, And so I cast away toward the other door,
The bellicose barrage I won’t let in, Beckoned onward by everything within,
Solace drawn in mine own mind. And back the door I tore,
To see…
Chaos churns, and I ignore it,
Town do burn, and I ignore it,
A flash of light so bright as to take my sight.
So many spurned, and I ignore it,
Finally, once again bathed, by a forgiving darkness.
My refuge-My calm-My darkest light.

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