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The Waste Land runs to 434 lines in length, so it is not really the 'long poem' that Eliot planned or anticipated ('the longest poem in the English langwidge', as Ezra Pound once jokingly applauded it). First published in The Criterion (London, October 1922) and The Dial (New York, November 1922), it has been the cause of more consternation and controversy than any other poem of the twentieth century. To some readers it appears to be staggeringly esoteric; a medley of voices; a 'music of allusions' and a 'palimpsest or layered mixture of historical times' (Smith, 1983, pp. 23, 50); or, if you prefer, a hotchpotch, a piece of elitist eclecticism appealing principally to those who appear to have access, like Eliot, to a swathe of European literary history: perhaps in particular Dante, Shakespeare and other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century dramatists, the English metaphysical poets, and the French symbolists, as well as philosophical and anthropological lore - much of it stemming from Sir James Frazer's digest of primitive vegetative ritual, The Golden Bough (12 vols, 1890-1915) - of an equally arcane kind.

Yet the poem, though it may look like an arbitrary assemblage, does comprise five distinct sections in a specific sequence; and it aspires to a mythical structure rather than to any other kind of 'narrative method' ('Ulysses, Order, and Myth', 1923, p. 483). While it may resemble a cut-and-paste job, a collage, it runs deliberately, as Ezra Pound said, from 'April ... to Shantih', and was duly signed and published by Eliot himself - and so 'authorized' in every sense.

'Various critics have done me the honour to interpret the poem in terms of criticism of the contemporary world, have considered it, indeed, as an important bit of social criticism. To me it was only the relief of a personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life; it is just a piece of rhythmical grumbling' (Eliot, 1971, p. 1). So said Eliot, according to his brother: it is an astonishing observation from the poet and critic who is famed for his insistence on impersonality; who coined the useful locution 'objective correlative'; who laid down decrees about the importance of 'objecti-fication' in art, the need to escape from 'personality', to transform felt life into literary form. Whenever he said those words, he had evidently forgotten the pointer he had given in one of the curious notes which were added to the Boni & Liveright (New York) edition of The Waste Land in December 1922, to the effect that one of the themes of section V, 'What the Thunder Said', is 'the present decay of eastern Europe' - which was as much as to say that certain passages of the poem, as he framed them, were indeed intended to express some mode of 'criticism of the contemporary world'.

Did Eliot understand his own poem? Maybe not in any sense that greatly helps us in the work of interpreting it. Even after he supplied a number of teasing and occasionally tendentious notes to the poem, he came to lament, in 'The Frontiers of Criticism' (1956), what he styled his 'exposition of bogus scholarship' (Eliot, 1957, p. 109). In 'The Function of Criticism' (1923) he seemed to describe himself as much in terms of the harrowed critic as the inspired poet: 'Probably . . . the larger part of an author in composing his work is critical labour; the labour of sifting, combining, constructing, expunging, correcting, testing: this frightful toil is as much critical as it is creative' (Eliot, 1951, p. 30). We know too that Eliot made grateful use of the services of a fellow poet and critic, Ezra Pound, who sifted, corrected and expunged a fair part of the original critical mass of the poem. Since 1971, when Eliot's widow, Mrs Valerie Eliot, published a facsimile of the drafts that were lost for many years, we have been able to enjoy insights into the process of composition, and the work which Pound undertook: the painful breech-birth by a nerveless 'midwife'. (Probably the best essay to date on the question of 'co-authorship' is that by Jack Stillinger, 1991.)

At least in his later years, Eliot disparaged the centrality, the supposed moment, of the poem. In 1959 he was asked if Pound's 'excisions' had changed the original 'intellectual structure' of the work? 'No', he responded, 'I think it was just as structureless, only in a more futile way, in the longer version' (Hall, 1959, pp. 53-4). (The 'longer version' seems to have extended to the inclusion of at least four other short sections or quasi-autonomous poems: 'Exequy', 'Dirge', 'The Death of the Duchess', 'Elegy'; Eliot wondered too whether another difficult poem about the defeated psyche, the plangent 'Gerontion', should feature as a 'prelude' to The Waste Land) Perhaps we should take Eliot's words as the last word, and not look for structure or purposive meaning in the poem. Should we accept what often seems to be the case, that it is a jumble, a writhing rag-bag? Is it simply the last gasp of the epic aspirations of poetry in our age - 'a kind of epic in a walnut shell' (as Eliot's friend Conrad Aiken once dubbed it)?

This is not to say that Eliot had no sense of what he had achieved, or any original or progressive intention, whether conscious or unconscious. Originally, for example, he chose as his epigraph to the work this passage from Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899): 'Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision, - he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath -"The horror! the horror!"' According to contemporary correspondence, Eliot considered that passage 'much the most appropriate I can find, and somewhat elu-

cidative'. Whereas most readers today would find that quotation not only 'somewhat elucidative' but rather brayingly prescriptive and even reductive, Pound urged Eliot to drop it on the grounds that Conrad was simply not 'weighty enough to stand the citation' (Eliot, 1971, p. 125). Thereupon Eliot turned instead to a much more obscure passage, a sentence in Latin and Greek from a satire by Petronius, Satyricon; Brian Southam, in his Student's Guide to the Selected Poems of T. S. Eliot (1974, p. 71), translates the passage thus: 'For once I saw with my very own eyes the Sibyl at Cumae hanging in a cage, and when the boys said to her, "Sibyl, what do you want?" she answered, "I want to die." ' Granted the gift of foreseeing all, the Sibyl neglected to look to her own future: she forgot to ask for eternal youth and so turned into an aged crone yearning for the release of death from a prospect that was always immediately apparent to her. Prevision could do nothing to solve her particular problem of the everlasting, ever-present pains of existence. ('In the Cage', adverting both to a story by Henry James and to Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird, was the original title of the second section of the poem, which eventually hung by another stolen citation, from the dramatist Thomas Middleton: 'A Game of Chess'.) But the Latin original for the word given as 'cage' is actually ampulla, an ampoule or glass vessel: the Sibyl is jammed into a kind of bell jar, that is to say, and longs, quite like Sylvia Plath, to escape a suffocating existence, her death-in-life.

How appropriate it then seems that the first of the five sections of the poem is called 'The Burial of the Dead' (the title taken from the Anglican funeral service); and how chillingly apt that the burden of this section is a congeries of markedly different voices speaking of the horror of the living dead, that what seemed satisfactorily dead is 'stirring' back to the surface, the return of remembrance and pain. The world invoked and evoked here is literally ghastly: we are presented with a series of zombies finding voice alongside images of a dessicated landscape — 'stony rubbish ... A heap of broken images . . . fear in a handful of dust' (the last phrase being ultimately derived from a sermon by John Donne). The point is grisly horror; not decent, blessed burial but the utterly unwilling resuscitation of memory and desire, failed love, betrayed love. The section includes the ghoulish suggestion that last year's corpse might 'sprout' back into life, and it ends by quoting Baudelaire's shocking refusal of any safe ironic distance on the part of the reader: 'You! hypocrite lecteur! — mon semblable, — mon frère!' Eliot's readers are denied the prerogative of standing in judgement; we are trapped in complicity, in misery, suffering with those we see suffer.

This opening section includes a latter-day Sibyl in decadent modern dress: 'Madame Sosostris' is a 'famous clairvoyante', alias fortune-teller, who can't get the hang of her Tarot cards and so is unable to comprehend the counsel she hands out. A perverse, catch-as-catch-can and decadent prophetess, she suborns her own authority when she ends up by voicing her very own anxieties in this form:

Thank you. If you see dear Mrs Equitone,

Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:

One must be so careful these days.

This portrait of Mrs Equitone's phoney personal trainer is of course comic, but it has serious implications, most obviously by begging this question: for want of any authorized, received teacher or visionary, who is to lead us to the world of the spirit? This waste land is a place bereft of certain symbols; the sanction of received religious wisdom.

The theme of deathliness, decadence and claustrophobia is continued into section II of the poem, which features three major instances of bad gender relations - beginning with the well-known description of a kind of chokingly baroque bordello, and moving on to the fraught, staccato, neurotic, non-communicative exchange between man and wife that is often thought to be modelled on the dealings between Eliot and his own wife Vivienne, and concluding with another, though related, piece of pastiche conversation, the dire pub scene focusing on a vulgar conversation about the overburdened Lil's understandable unwillingness to meet the sexual demands of her husband Albert. As one of Eliot's biographers has remarked, '"A Game of Chess" is hell itself, the diabolical routines of marital powerplay' (Gordon, 1977, p. 111). These portraits turn out to be all the more sick when you realize a couple of features about the first of this series of scenes, in the stiflingly over-ornate brothel: while usually reckoned to borrow from the description of Cleopatra's barge in Shakespeare's tragedy, it actually owes just as much, possibly more, to the scene in Cymbeline in which the voyeuristic Iachimo, the dirty trickster, tells over the detail of the pure and faithful Imogen's chamber (Smith, 1983, pp. 122-3), including the observation that:

She hath been reading late

The tale of Tereus; here the leaf's turned down

Where Philomel gave up.

Eliot provides a frame within a frame. His nameless woman's chamber is adorned with pictures depicting rape and other barbarities; it exhibits a glut of polyperverse gratification, most notably:

Above the antique mantel was displayed As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale Filled all the desert with inviolable voice And still she cried, and still the world pursues, 'Jug jug' to dirty ears.

(The story of the violation of Philomel by King Tereus is best known in the version retailed by Ovid in Metamorphoses VI.)

What is most surprising to discover from the drafts of the poem about these opening sections - given that they represent a linked series of painful memories, regret, loss, resistance to life, and sordid sex - is that originally they went under the title 'He Do The Police in Different Voices' (Eliot, 1971, pp. 5, 11, 17). That curious title, with its seeming echoes of a music-hall turn, is taken from an incidental remark in Dickens's Our Mutual Friend (I, ch. 16), in which a foundling named Sloppy is complimented for his skill as a mimic: the widow Higden says 'I do love a newspaper. . . . You mightn't think it, but Sloppy is a beautiful reader of a newspaper. He do the Police in different voices.' Such an allusion might suggest that Eliot thought he was undertaking a piece of social satire in a vein not unlike some of his own, and Pound's, earlier verses. In any event, the idea of ventriloquism, of 'sending up' — often with feelings of revulsion — the various figures of his poem, may have been a primary force behind the work; and elements of that initial stance survive in the finished poem. As much as there is pain, remorse and horror in this waste land, there is also contempt.

Sexual rapaciousness and abuse (as well as sordid indifference), exploitation, violation, mutilation, abandonment and voicelessness, all figure again in the following section, 'The Fire Sermon', which includes the notorious — and, ironically, formally rhyming — quatrains describing a wretched, dissociated encounter: the casual, indifferent coupling of the typist and 'the young man carbuncular ... A small house agent's clerk'. It represents a snatch of sex without joy or comfort. (Eliot's scorn for the figures he thus delineates may be deduced from a phrase in the original draft which calls the clerk and typist 'these crawling bugs'.) This section significantly closes with baleful lines convoking St Augustine's appeal for redemptive grace and the gospel of purgation according to the Buddha's most famous sermon, Maha-Vagga (Kearns, 1987, p. 75):

Burning burning burning burning

O Lord Thou pluckest me out

O Lord Thou pluckest burning

Typographically, the passage represents a kind of expressionist motif: the broken syntax is in key with the prevalent disjunctions, the anti-discursive strategy, the ellipses, the upsetting dislocations and incompletions, of the poem as a whole. Yet the apostrophized appeal to the Lord is unavailing: we are left with a dangling gerund, 'burning', which may suggest either a satisfactory purgation, the burning-out of sin, in the divine fire that transforms and purifies, or a sense of being continuously consumed by one's own burning desires. Harriet Davidson, in the Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, mistakenly observes: '"The Fire Sermon" refers to Buddha's sermon on the purification of sexual desire' (Davidson, 1994, p. 129). In truth, the Fire Sermon is by no means confined to sex; it is a terrifying, incantatory exhortation to purge oneself of all desires and attachments, in accordance with the Buddhist teaching that earthly existence is evil: one must pass through a series of reincarnations with the object of refining oneself out of existence, of attaining Nirvana or Nothingness. It is a paradoxical doctrine, and has really little in common with Christianity except for the notion that both creeds seek fulfilment beyond death. Eliot would have it in his notes to The Waste Land that the Fire Sermon 'corresponds in importance to the Sermon on the Mount' (Eliot, 1971, p. 148); and yet the correspondence is in fact figured only by Eliot in this poem. The poet is concerned with the necessary, painful process of dying, the purgation; not with the life after death, of which he cannot here conceive. 'The collocation of these two representatives of eastern and western asceticism, as the culmination of this part of the poem, is not an accident', Eliot frankly observed (ibid.).

It then follows, if one is seeking a configuration, a shape, for the work as a whole, that the next, and briefest, part of the poem, section IV, is a memento mori entitled 'Death by Water': a beautiful, lyrical evocation of a merchant, 'Phlebas the Phoenician', revisiting his life and surrendering his worldly concerns:

A current under sea Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell He passed the stages of his age and youth Entering the whirlpool.

The lines ironically hark back to the earlier account of Madame Sosostris and her ill-informed (unwitting) fortune-telling - 'Here, said she, / Is your card, the drowned Phoenician sailor' - and likewise, 'Fear death by water'.

The base note of the whole poem is dread, which might be said to be relieved, but only equivocally, or ambiguously, in the final section, 'What the Thunder Said', which undertakes a nightmare journey through a hallucinatory landscape - 'agony in stony places', sterile rocks, hideous apparitions. It is in fact a veritable apocalypse; 'I John saw these things, and heard them' reads a cancelled line in the draft of the first section, 'The Burial of the Dead', referring to the appalling and yet splendid Revelation of St John the Divine: the terrifying Apocalypse or End of the World News. But perhaps most interestingly of all, the poem now moves decisively beyond Eurocentrism, beyond the segment of the world dominated by the dispensation of Judaeo-Christianity, and clearly locates itself in the Himalayas, and by the River Ganges. Hinduism is invoked, and quoted, and Eliot cites a specific holy text, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad - a fable, which has a moral design upon the auditor -in which the thunder booms 'DA', and again 'DA', and again 'DA', and is interpreted to be urging generosity, charity, order - Datta, Dayadhvam, Damyata - Give, Sympathize, Control (as Eliot renders the exhortations which are given in his sources as 'Be liberal, be clement, be restrained'). In this Upanishad, it is further interesting to know, the supplicant hears also the word of godhead, the logos, speaking out the mantra 'OM' and again 'OM' and again 'OM', the word of assent. The point is that to ask the right questions is at once to receive the right response: you hear in the voice, the word, of the thunder what you are fit to hear. But Eliot omits the 'OM', presumably with intent, since he had studied the Sanskrit (Kearns, 1987, pp. 228-9). In place of a pacific conclusion, the poem explodes into fragments, a cacophony of juxtaposed voices, a babble, a Babel, or what Stephen Spender called a hysteria (Spender, 1975, p. 119) - citing here the figure of the Provençal poet Arnaut Daniel out of Dante's Purgatorio XXVI who wishes to be remembered as he plunges into the painfully refining fire of Purgatory (Sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor: 'Be mindful in due season of my pain'); here, 'O swallow swallow', a reference to the transmogrification of Procne in Ovid's version of the violation of Philomel; and here (to take just one further instance) a famous citation from The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd, 'Why then Ile fit you [oblige you]. Hieronymo's mad againe' (which is not actually an authentic quotation from the play, since the latter phrase is in fact the subtitle of the play itself), referring to the hideous way in which Hieronymo, driven to dementia, avenges his murdered son. Hieronymo makes up a play out of a jumble of languages, and under cover of this riddling, distracting device he slaughters his enemies. Critics often take this allusion to Hieronymo and his multilingual play as Eliot's blackly comic piece of meta-poetry: Hieronymo's creation is a mélange of languages, and so is The Waste Land itself. Yet Eliot may have been ahead of such an intertextual game, with an ironic double bluff, since the following lines give the context in Kyd of Eliot's first terse phrase:

Why then Ile fit you, say no more.

When I was yong I gave my minde,

And plide my selfe to fruitles poetrie:

Which though it profite the professor naught,

Yet it is passing pleasing to the world [IV, i. 67-72]

Many critics like to think too that the poem ends up with a quiescent or quasi-religious closure — as in citing the Sanskrit 'Shantih shantih shantih' — the 'formal ending to an Upanishad'. But while Eliot was evidently deeply moved by the significance and the sound of the Sanskrit term 'Shantih' — in the first version of his notes he deferentially suggests that the Christian formulation ' "The Peace which passeth understanding" is a feeble translation of the content of this word' (Eliot, 1971, p. 149), and in so doing seems to exalt the ineffable wonder of the Sanskrit at the expense of the comfortable Christian locution — I still do not think it possible to suggest that The Waste Land concludes with an assent to peace and well-wishing. On the contrary, what happens in the final lines of the poem is that Eliot's splurge of allusions — citing violence, horror, murderous vengeance, purgatorial pain, self-mutilation and ultimate voicelessness — is left in open confrontation with the voice of order, self-control and peace as expressed in the Upanishad. 'These fragments I have shored against my ruins', runs the famous line 430, three lines from the end; but a fine variant occurs in the drafts, 'These fragments I have spelt into my ruins', which I happen to think is even better than the final version. 'Spelt' is such a reverberant word, with connotations not only of piecing together language and ideas but also of conjuring magic, runes or spirits. At any rate, the end of the poem cannot be said to represent a solution or resolution; it is just 'a formal ending' (Eliot, 1971, p. 149). Grover Smith has I think correctly noted: 'Neither grace nor self-reliance is invoked, only endurance'; and Eliot's 'thrice-repeated "Shantih" ' must 'be taken as heavily ironic. If it is hopeful it is the first word of the poem which is' (Smith, 1983, p. 55).

What I have been describing is what I see as the implicit schema of the poem, which is less a narrative or plot than an impulsion, an emotional purposiveness, a quest, starting out from a living death and its attendant horrors, moving on by way of a commemoration of death in the figure of Phlebas, and ending up by soliciting a spiritual explanation, perhaps even transcendence, but assuredly not attaining it. Eliot's strategy is not just to juxtapose voices through ventriloquism and allusiveness, nor to synthesize anything, but to engage us in a process of interplay and cross-play: a play of interconnection and interpenetration.

William Empson wrote about The Waste Land: 'The poem is inherently a mystery; I would never have believed that the Symbolist programme could be made to work at all, if it had not scored a few resounding triumphs, such as this. Many people, when the poem was new, felt greatly affected by it without understanding why; and even if you decide that the effect was an accident you cannot help wanting to know how it happened' (Empson, 1984, p. 190). Well-disposed contemporary critics were quick to apply to Eliot's poetry the vocabulary of his own running commentary as supplied by his prose, as well as to distil the sources and influences of the mode Eliot brought to fruition in England. In Axel's Castle (1931), for example, Edmund Wilson happily placed Eliot in the tradition of French Symbolist poetry, pointing out that 'The Symbolist Movement . . . finally succeeded in throwing overboard completely the clarity and logic of the French classical tradition . . . [T]o approximate the indefiniteness of music was to become one of the principal aims of Symbolism. ... To intimate things rather than state them plainly was thus one of the primary aims of the Symbolists' (Wilson, 1961, pp. 18, 20, 23). With specific reference to The Waste Land, Wilson observed that Eliot 'succeeds in conveying his meaning, in communicating his emotion, in spite of all his learned or mysterious allusions, and whether we understand them or not' (ibid., p. 94). In view of the fact that he then praises what he calls Eliot's 'trenchant rationalism', his comments might well be taken as a kind of backhanded compliment.

Archibald MacLeish's poeticized dictum that 'A poem should not mean but be' (which Wimsatt and Beardsley happily endorse in 'The Intentional Fallacy') obviously challenges us either to surrender critical analysis or to approach the poem in terms of itself and as referring to itself. The latter is the New Critical position, and its logic is anti-rational: it accords more or less directly with the Imagist tenet 'No ideas but in things', which is itself an anti-intellectual blow against what Ezra Pound and other poets took to be the moribund self-indulgence of Romantic subjectivity. On those terms, of course, the poem is jealously guarded against the excrescences of 'meaning' which the poet might otherwise have considered himself to be proposing. Put simply, the argument is that to realize an emotion in images is to have interpreted that emotion, without the interposition of the poet's ego: the poet is the agent of his vision, not the active proponent; images are a self-sufficient mediation to which the deliberative consciousness of the author would be an irrelevance.

In 1935 F. O. Matthiessen published the first full-length study of Eliot, The Achievement of T. S. Eliot, a book which is still most valuable as a loyal exposition of Eliot's ideas. It certainly helped further to ensure that what Eliot wrote about poetry rapidly became orthodoxy, and that his critical pronouncements should be seen as matching the achievement of his poetry. In spite of the book's high usefulness, therefore, it does have the character of answering for Eliot rather than of enquiring of him. Using more or less the same phrasing as Wilson in Axel's Castle, Matthiessen reports Eliot's conviction that 'a poem should be constructed deliberately with the aim of producing a unified effect' (Matthiessen, 1958, p. 41). (Wilson wrote 'a certain effect', which has a marginally but not materially different implication.) Matthiessen went on, 'consequently, after composing the first draft of The Waste Land, [Eliot's] revisions shortened it to less than two-thirds of its original length, in order that he might best create a dramatic structure that would possess at the same time a lyrical intensity'. Having thus praised The Waste Land as both drama and lyric, as well as Eliot's capacity for deliberate construction, he for some reason chooses to defend the poet against any reader who might then feel that Eliot had been what he calls 'a too conscious artist' (ibid., p. 44). In other words, even while praising Eliot's deliberateness in structuring the poem, he anticipates the possible objection that he might seem to have been over-intellectualized: 'it is now apparent', Matthiessen wrote, 'that [Eliot's] principal desire is not for intellectual density but for richness and subtlety of emotional impression'

Since the publication of the drafts of The Waste Land we have been given cause for surprise to find that Matthiessen felt so confident in talking about the poem's 'deliberate construction'. It is instructive, I think, to look briefly at the first draft of the section 'Death by Water', which (in both holograph (fair copy) and typescript versions) describes a seafaring narrative to the Arctic circle; the haunting lyric about Phlebas the Phoenician occurs as a coda. Ezra Pound insisted on cutting the main narrative passage, with the consequence that Eliot could see little point to the passage about Phlebas if the allegorical narrative was set aside. Eliot asked, 'Perhaps better omit Phlebas also???' Pound's response was definite: 'I DO advise keeping Phlebas. In fact I more'n advise. Phlebas is an integral part of the poem; the card pack introduces him, the drowned phoen. sailor. And he is needed ABSOlootly where he is. Must stay in' (Eliot, 1971, p. 129; Eliot, 1988, pp. 504—5). In short, Pound had discerned a major motif which gave the poem some coherence as he determined it, a linking figure that Eliot seems to have been unaware of.

However, when we turn to a good recent study of Eliot, Thomas Stearns Eliot, Poet, we find A. D. Moody asserting that 'There is nothing to suggest that [Pound] tried to understand the poem, in the sense of seeking an interpretation or explanation of its meaning' (Moody, 1980, p. 317). Yet Valerie Eliot's notes to her edition of the poem helpfully draw attention to the fact that Eliot's original seafaring narrative was 'rather inspired' by the Ulysses Canto (XXVI), about the ultimate voyage, in Dante's Inferno — which suggests that even at the time of writing The Waste Land Eliot was strongly drawn to philosophical narrative, and not just to the 'lyrical formulation'

(Moody's term for what remained of 'Phlebas the Phoenician') that Pound chose to carve out of the drafts. Some seven or eight years later, when he wrote his essay on Dante, Eliot finally formulated what had been his earlier predilection. He praised the simple philosophical lucidity of Dante's allegory, and especially commended the Ulysses episode as being 'particularly "readable" because of its straightforward narrative' (Eliot, 1971, p. 128). So, in excising Eliot's seafaring narrative, Pound had substituted his own lyric ideal for Eliot's inclination towards philosophical and allegorical narrative (we know that Pound abhorred allegory). It therefore seems likely that Eliot himself could not find enough cohesion in the parts of the work he had drafted, and that - far from Pound not seeking an interpretation of the poem, as Moody asserts -Pound's suggestion that Phlebas was integral gave Eliot his cue for his note on line 218: 'Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a "character", is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest. . . . What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem.' Eliot's explanation that the bisexual Tiresias unites 'all the rest' of the characters might well be regarded as the one piece of genuine exposition he afforded in the notes, but I would suggest that any such co-inherence came mostly after the 'event' of the poem, by way of Pound's construction of its meaning. It was therefore fitting that in his Poems 1909—1925 Eliot paid tribute to Pound by adding to The Waste Land the famous dedication: il miglior fabbro ('the better craftsman').


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