If there was ever a grand example of a poet effortlessly mixing allusions and metaphors “The Waste Land” is that example.
In the section of the poem, The Fire Sermon, Elliot does an excellent job of painting a vivid picture for his readers. Right in the beginning of the section he creates a vision for the reader that almost comes with a scent. The way he describes the bare trees as the river’s tent falling is truly clever. He welcomes the reader into a barren land. One that is wet and decaying. It also carries the reader through varying scenery and textures. In the beginning of the poem when Elliot refers to the shadows of the red rock, the feeling is very dry and stale, whereas here everything is wet or damp.
He goes on to describe how the magic of the river is no more. How a place that was one so beautiful and moving, now is covered with debris and causes hints sit an weep. This could easily be a metaphor the the world and how it was once a beautiful and peaceful place, and now because of the car leashes of others is turning into a place or despair. Elliot’s picture of gloom and sadness if shown even further when he describes the rat creeping through the bushes and how the dead bodies lie they’re. Whether the speaker is speaking figuratively or literally the tone and feeling of the environment is still clearly displayed.
Further in the section the speaker goes on to hint that people of the past had passion and will power and how in modern times people lack dignity and resistance; they easily yield to temptation.
There is a consistent back and forth through your this section. Flashbacks to what used to be and tales what it is the modern day are vividly displayed. Dishonesty, misplaced trust, sex, pollution, sexism, racism and various other themes are all accounted for in the section of the poem.
For each person, their outlook in the way of the world varies based on experience. For Elliot, it is upsetting the way things have shifted. For him, the world has fallen short of what would be ideal. It’s as if he goes through the poem switching back and for between then and now in an effort to make the reader understand how much the way of the world has transformed. It also might make the reader search within themselves in s effort to see if some of the blame can be place on them and what they can do to change it.
Sections of this poem, if read on their own will create different feelings and imagery. With the carefulness of which it was written this poem, read in separate section may even allow readers to be satisfied with just reading single sections at a time. However, when the sections of the poem are read together they take you through a build up of imagery and emotions that make the poem that much more enjoyable. Even the smallest section of the poem carried an immense amount of importance in regards to the rest of the poem.
In the smallest section of the poem “Death by Water,” the reader is once again made to use their imagination. The first few lines call on the spirituality or the lack thereof of the person reading it. As Eliot speaks about death, the reader must decide wether the death is literal or spiritual. If the death is spiritual then, it may have very well been necessary in order for spiritual rebirth to take place. This section coming after The Fire Sermon, was brilliant placement in the way that in order for the ways of the world to change there must be a death and rebirth. People as some point have to shift their views and change what they hold as important and think of the world as a whole.
The latter of the section reminds the reader to remain humble. It reminds the reader that even in the primer of their lives the ultimate reality will meet them and remind them of their mortality. And they they too can end up being the corpse lying. among the dead bodies or at the bottom of the sea or they could re-evaluate themselves and become an addition to those helping to make the much needed changes in the world.
Metaphors and allusions allows the mind to effortlessly dance between fantasy and reality, drawing unrealized parallels. Poets create an arena of thoughts for the reader to toy with, inevitably causing them to second guess some of the beliefs they may have held on to do firmly.