Text: The Waste Land by T.S.Eliot
Task: Close reading activity
Exercises on pages 326 and 327
1) Mark the point where the poet starts imaging a possible alternative to the desolate land in front of him.
In my opinion you can note the description of the desolate land from line 10 to line 15.
2) Focus on he context
a - What kind of landscape is described in lines 1-15? Identify its key aspects and say how many times they are repeated.
The poet creates a desolate landscape: he uses the expression "no water" to identify the death of the land, its lack of fertility. So the expression "no water" becomes a key aspect of the extract.
b - What kind of landscape is describe in lines 16-29?
In these lines the landscape described lis like a dead land where "the cicada" and "dry grass" underline the need of life .
c - Compare the two landscapes. What do they have in common??
The two landscapes have in common the presence of water, a very important element for life.
d - Comment on the sound quality of the two words which characterise the two landscapes.
"Rock" and "water" are the key words of the lines analysed. Both words are a very hard sound so it is simpler to understand the meaning of them in the context of the poem.
3) Consider the layers of meaning that the word water acquires as the poem progresses. Note down the denotation and connotation of water. Then identify the meaning of the water symbolism in the extract.
The word "water" describes the landscape from line 1 to line 15, while from line 16 to line 30 it appears as a necessity for the land. The water is the symbol of life that is in opposition with the sterility of land.
4) Which words in the text would be regarded as conventionally "unpoetic"?
In my opinion Eliot uses a lot of unpoetic words, like mudcracked or carious, that underline the land as you can see. The desolate land is not poetic but it is real.
5) Look at the metre, rhythm and layout of the extract.
a - Is it written in regular metre?
No it isn't . It is written in free verse.
b -Can it be split into regular stanzas?
Yes, it can.
c - How do the rhythm and the layout complement the key aspects of the two landscape?
They contribute to create the effect of a dry, thirsty mountaneous land.