The Waste Land (1922) By Templeton, Erin
The Waste Land is an influential and experimental 435-line poem written by Thomas Stearns Eliot and first published in 1922. Structurally, it is a pastiche of different verse forms, both traditional and contemporary. The poem is richly allusive and polyvocal. It contains several different languages, as well as allusions to texts as diverse as the Upanishads, Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, and Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal. A pre-publication manuscript of the poem reveals that both Eliot’s first wife Vivienne and his friend Ezra Pound helped revise the poem into its final form before its initial publication in 1922. At its core, The Waste Land is about life in London following the catastrophe of the First World War. The fragmentation of the verse form in The Waste Land mirrors the fragmentation of life in war-torn London and the increasing disorientation of urban experience.