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FFardella - Waste Land. An Extract
[author: Flora Fardella - postdate: 2007-11-16]


1- Focus on the content.


a- What kind of landscape is described in lines 1-15? Identify its key aspects and say how many times they are repeated.

The landscape described is rocky, sandy and there is no water.

The key aspects are: the word water is repeated for five times, rock is repeated also  five times and mountains repeated for four times.


b- What kind of landscape is described in lines 16-29?

Eliot describes a landscape that is still rocky and without water, but he images a new landscape, where you can dream about  and finally find water.


c- Compare the two landscapes. What do they have in common?

The two landscapes are both rocky, sandy and there is no water.


d- Comment on the sound quality of the words which characterise the two landscapes.

The sound "r" recalls the difficulty of the two rocky lands and the sound "o" underlines this weight of such journey.  The anaphor of "and" (lines 17- 19- 20 ) has the same function: it recalls the difficulty to move in this land where there is not water but only rock.


2- 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.

In the first lines water is considered only an element in opposition to the rocky landscape.

In the fifth line water adopts a new meaning: it satisfies man's thirsty.

In the following lines the word water acquires more and more meanings: it is the symbol of life. As the matter of fact without water there is no life and this is the reason why Eliot associates the adjective "sterile" to the thunder that isn't followed by rain.    



3- Concentrate on the choice of words made by the poet.

Which words in the text would be regarded as conventionally unpoetic?

The words that would be regarded unpoetic are: water, rock, sand; the unpoetic adjective are: sandy, sterile and mudcracked and among the verbs, I consider unpoetic the verb "to think" that is rather associate to a human need and not to a poetic form.


4- Look at the metre, rhythm and layout of the extract.


a- Is it written in regular metre?

No, it is not written in a regular metre.


b- Can it be split into regular stanzas?

No, it cannot be split into a regular stanzas.