The Waste Land

Nature (landscape) in Waste Land?


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These excerpts come directly from Gradesaver

The Seasons

"The Waste Land" opens with an invocation of April, “the cruellest month.” That spring be depicted as cruel is a curious choice on Eliot’s part, but as a paradox it informs the rest of the poem to a great degree. What brings life brings also death; the seasons fluctuate, spinning from one state to another, but, like history, they maintain some sort of stasis; not everything changes. In the end, Eliot’s “waste land” is almost seasonless: devoid of rain, of propagation, of real change. The world hangs in a perpetual limbo, awaiting the dawn of a new season.


"The Waste Land" lacks water; water promises rebirth. At the same time, however, water can bring about death. Eliot sees the card of the drowned Phoenician sailor and later titles the fourth section of his poem after Madame Sosostris’ mandate that he fear “death by water.” When the rain finally arrives at the close of the poem, it does suggest the cleansing of sins, the washing away of misdeeds, and the start of a new future; however, with it comes thunder, and therefore perhaps lightning. The latter may portend fire; thus, “The Fire Sermon” and “What the Thunder Said” are not so far removed in imagery, linked by the potentially harmful forces of nature.

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