"The Waste Land" Author T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) Time first published in 1922 in The Criterion Hint at possibility of production of new life and redemption of humanity from the by-products of decay; construction of truth from the nearly lost fragments of ancient thought and the wisdom of various cultures. Study Questions What is implied in the burial motif in the first section of the poem? Why is April “the cruellest month?” Does that fit in with traditional perceptions of April? What is the reason for such a statement? What has happened in a world where springtime is cruel and painful? How does that fit in with the cycles of nature? Why would the rebirth of nature be associated with cruelty? How do “memory and desire” fit in with those ideas? Is there any relation to historical events and developments? What begins again in this cruel spring? What is implied by the tale of "Marie" and her cousin, the archduke? Why the image of sledding down the mountain? Is the downward motion significant? Does this relate at all to the historical context? Why does Marie feel free in the mountains? Why does she “read, much of the night and go south in the winter”? What might she be reflecting on? What is the “heap of broken images?” What is implied by the redness of the rock? The shadow? Why is it “your” shadow? Why does it stride “behind you” in the morning and rise “to meet you” in the evening? What kind of "fear" is Eliot referring to “in a handful of dust?” Dr. Fajardo-Acosta gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Matthew Peckham in the creation of this page http://fajardo-acosta.com/worldlit/eliot/waste_land.htm