Ts Eliot: Preludes, Burial of the Dead and Hollow Men

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1st stanza Preludes 2nd stanza I Burial of the Dead (The Waste Land) 3rd stanza/part of Hollow Men T. S. Eliot wrote “The Waste Land” following the devastation of the First World War. Vast tacts of the once beautiful European countryside had been laid to ruin and were indeed literal waste lands. There were enormous numbers of dead and wounded. Many of those who returned were broken, mere shells of their former selves. The world was forever changed. It is little wonder then that this poem, as with many of his poems, questions the state of modern society of his time. It questions its lack of spirituality, the lack of rejuvenation and renewal in life. This war to end all wars must surely have lead to such questioning; after all where was God that this could happen? He was not in the hearts of a society that could perpetrate such horrors. The second stanza of “The Burial of the Dead” takes us through this waste land – through and environment that offers no renewal, or rejuvenation of the landscape and or spiritually. The relationships depicted in this stanza are failed ones- “speak, and my eyes failed”. They are filled with heart break and longing; there is no renewal to be found in them or the world around them. So too in the third stanza of “The Hollow men” are we confronted with a vision of a desiccated, hopeless landscape- “this is the dead land”. This disillusionment and questioning of the modern lifestyle, of Eliot's time, is also alluded to in the first stanza of the preludes, a poem whose entirety deals with the sordidness and decay of city life where “a lonely cab-horse steams and stamps”. Eliot’s 'The Waste Land’, deals with the idea of a lack of renewal, and death in each of his five parts. The distorted images of nature and the cycle of life that is portrayed conveys a lack of renewal both in the physical environment and spiritually

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