The Waste Land is a classic poem by T. S. Eliot, considered a landmark text of the Modernist movement.
Famous for juxtaposing Eastern cultures with Western literary references, The Waste Land has been celebrated for its eloquence, depth of meaning and numerous subtleties. Rich with allusions to religious texts of Hinduism and Buddhism, ancient literature, and Eliot’s own life, the poem is admired to this day and is a common text in school and university English literature courses.
Painstakingly composed, the original drafts of The Waste Land were far longer than the final edition which is composed of five distinct parts. Truncation occurred on the advice of Eliot’s contemporary and friend Ezra Pound. A famous line – “And we shall play a game of chess/The ivory men make company between us / Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door” – was removed at the request of Eliot’s wife Vivienne, it is thought for being too revealing about their married life.
Quickly ascending to the status of literary classic, The Waste Land is widely considered by literary scholars to be Eliot’s finest poem, representing a maturity in his style and a confidence in both expression and in research.
Since its initial publication in 1922, it has been published dozens of times alone and in anthologies. This edition contains notes which explain and clarify the deeper and more nuanced verses.