The Waste Land



Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri-dicerent: Σιβυλλα τι δέλεις; respondebat illa: άποδανεϊν δέλω.


For Ezra Pound

il miglior fabbro



I. The Burial of the Dead



April is the cruelest month, breeding

 Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

 Memory and desire, stirring

 Dull roots with spring rain.

 Winter kept us warm, covering

 Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

 A little life with dried tubers.

 Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee

 With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,

 And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, (10)

And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.

And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke's,

My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,

And I was frightened. He said, Marie,

Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.

In the mountains, there you feel free.

I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.



What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, (20)

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water. Only

There is shadow under this red rock,

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),

And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust. (30)


Frisch weht der Wind

 Der Heimat zu,

 Mein irisch Kind,

Wo weilest du?


“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;

 “They called me the hyacinth girl.”

— Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,

Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not

Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither

Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, (40)

Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

Oed und leer das Meer.



Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,

Had a bad cold, nevertheless

Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,

 With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,

Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,

(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)

Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,

The lady of situations. (50)

Here is the Man with three staves, and here the Wheel,

And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,

Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,

Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find

The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.

I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.

Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,

Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:

One must be so careful these days.


 Unreal City, (60)

 Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many.

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,

And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,

To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours

With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.

There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: “Stetson!

“You who were with me in the ships at Mylae! (70)

“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,

“Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?

“Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?

“Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,

“Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!

“You! hypocrite lecteur! – mon semblable, – mon frere!”



II. A Game of Chess



The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,

Glowed on the marble, where the glass

Held up by standards wrought with fruited wines

From which a golden Cupidon peeped out (80)

(Another hid his eyes behind his wing)

Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra

Reflecting light upon the table as

The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it,

From satin cases poured in rich profusion,

In vials of ivory and coloured glass

Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,

Unguent, powdered, or liquid — troubled, confused

And drowned the Sense in odours; stirred by the air

That freshened from the window, these ascended (90)

In fattening the prolonged candle-flames,

Flung their smoke into the laquearia,

Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling.

Huge sea-wood fed with copper

Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,

In which sad light a carved dolphin swam.

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 (100)

Filled all the desert with inviolable voice

And still she cried, and still the world pursues,

“jug, Jug” to dirty ears.

And other withered stumps of time

Were told upon the walls; staring forms

Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.

Footsteps shuffled on the stair.

Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair

Spread out in fiery points

Glowed into words, then would be savagely still. (110)



“My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.

“Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.

“What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?

“I never know what you are thinking. Think.”



I think we are in rats' alley

where the dead men lost their bones.



“What is that noise?”

The wind under the door.

“What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?”

Nothing again nothing. (120)


“You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember


I remember.

Those are pearls that were his eyes.

“Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?”


0 o o o that Shakespeherian Rag –

It's so elegant

So intelligent (130)



“What shall I do now? What shall I do?

“I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street

“With my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow?

“What shall we ever do?”

The hot water at ten.

And if it rains, a closed car at four.

And we shall play a game of chess,

Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.



When Lil's husband got demobbed, I said

I didn't mince my words, I said to her myself, (140)


Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart.

He'll want to know what you done with that money he gave


To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there.

You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,

He said, I swear, I can't bear to look at you.

And no more can't I, I said, and think of poor Albert,

He's been in the army four years, he wants a good time,

And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said.

Oh is there, she said. Something o'that, I said. (150)

Then I'll know who to thank, she said, and give me a

straight look.


If you don't like it you can get on with it, I said.

Others can pick and choose if you can't.

But if Albert makes off, it won't be for lack of telling.

You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.

(And her only thirty-one.)

I can't help it, she said, pulling a long face,

It's them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.

(She's had five already, and nearly died of young George.) (160)

The chemist said it would be all right, but I’ve never been

the same.

You are a proper fool, I said.

Well, if Albert won't leave you alone, there it is, I said,

What you get married for if you don't want children?


Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,

And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot



Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight. (170)

Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.

Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night,

good night.



III. The Fire Sermon



The river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf


Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind


Grosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.


Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.


The river bears no empty bottles, Sandwich papers,


Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends


Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are




And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors; (180)


Departed, have left no addresses.


By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept…


Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,


Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.


But at my back in a cold blast I hear


The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.




A rat crept softly through the vegetation


Dragging its slimy belly on the bank


While I was fishing in the dull canal


On a winter evening round behind the gashouse (190)


Musing upon the king my brother's wreck


And on the king my father's death before him.


White bodies naked on the low damp ground


And bones cast in a little low dry garret,


Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year.


But at my back from time to time I hear


The Sound of horns and motors, which shall bring


Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring.


O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter


And on her daughter (200)


They wash their feet in Soda water


Et 0 ces voix d’enfants, chantant dans la coupole!




Twit twit twit


Jug jug jug jug jug jug jug


So rudely forc'd.






Unreal City


Under the brown fog of a winter noon


Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant


Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants (210)


C.i.f. London: documents at sight,


Asked me in demotic French


To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel


Followed by a weekend at the Metropole.




At the violet hour, when the eyes and back


Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits


Like a taxi throbbing waiting,


I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,


Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see


At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives (220)


Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,


The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights


Her stove, and lays out food in tins.


Out of the window perilously spread


Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,


On the divan are piled (at night her bed)


Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.


I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs


Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest —


I too awaited the expected guest. (230)


He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,


A Small House agent's Clerk, with one bold stare,


One of the low on whom assurance sits


As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.


The time is now propitious, as he guesses,


The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,


Endeavours to engage her in caresses


Which still are unreproved, if undesired.


Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;


Exploring hands encounter no defence; (240)


His vanity requires no response,


And makes a welcome of indifference.


(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all


Enacted on this same divan or bed;


I who have sat by Thebes below the wall


And walked among the lowest of the dead.)


Bestows one final patronising kiss,


And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit ...




She turns and looks a moment in the glass,


Hardly aware of her departed lover; (250)


Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:


“Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.”


When lovely woman stoops to folly and


Paces about her room again, alone,


She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,


And puts a record on the gramophone.




“This music crept by me upon the waters”


And along the strand, up Queen Victoria Street.


O City city, I can sometimes hear


Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street, (260)


The pleasant whining of a mandoline


And a clatter and a chatter from within


Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls


Of Magnus Martyr hold


Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.




The river sweats


Oil and tar


The barges drift


With the turning tide


Red sails (270)




To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.


The barges wash


Drifting logs


Down Greenwich reach


Past the Isle of Dogs.


Weialala leia


Wallala leialala


Elizabeth and Leicester


Beating oars (280)


The stern was formed


A gilded Shell


Red and gold


The brisk swell


Rippled both shores


Southwest wind


Carried down Stream


The peal of bells


White towers


Weialala leia (290)


Wallala leialala


“Trams and dusty trees.


Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew


Undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees


Supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.”




“My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart


Under my feet. After the event


He wept. He promised ‘a new start.’


I made no comment. What should I resent?”


“On Margate Sands. (300)


I can connect


Nothing with nothing.


The broken fingernails of dirty hands.


My people humble people who expect




la la




To Carthage then I came




Burning burning burning burning


Lord Thou pluckest me out


Lord Thou pluckest (310)








IV. Death by Water




Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,


Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell


And the profit and loss.


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.


Gentile or Jew


O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, (320)


Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.




V. What the Thunder said




After the torchlight red and sweaty faces


After the frosty silence in the gardens


After the agony in stony places


The shouting and the crying


Prison and palace and reverberation


Of thunder of spring over distant mountains


He who was living is now dead


We who were living are now dying


With a little patience (330)




Here is no water but only rock


Rock and no water and the sandy road


The road winding above among the mountains


Which are mountains of rock without water


If there were water we should stop and drink


Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think


Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand


If there were only water amongst the rock


Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit


Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit (340)


There is not even silence in the mountains


But dry sterile thunder without rain


There is not even solitude in the mountains


But red sullen faces sneer and snarl


From doors of mudcracked houses


If there were water


And no rock


If there were rock


And also water


And water


A spring (350)


A pool among the rock


If there were the sound of water only


Not the cicada


And dry grass singing


But sound of water over a rock


Where the hermit-thrush rings in the pine trees


Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop


But there is no water




Who is the third who walks always beside you?


When I count, there are only you and I together (360)


But when I look ahead up the white road


There is always another one walking beside you


Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded


I do not know whether a man or a woman


— But who is that on the other side of you?




What is that sound high in the air


Murmur of maternal lamentation


Who are those hooded hordes swarming


Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth


Ringed by the flat horizon only (370)


What is the city over the mountains


Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air


Falling towers


Jerusalem Athens Alexandria


Vienna London






A woman drew her long black hair out tight


And fiddled whisper music on those strings


And bats with baby faces in the violet light


Whistled, and beat their wings (380)


And crawled head downward down a blackened wall


And upside down in air were towers


Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours


And voices singing out of empty cisterns and


exhausted wells.




In this decayed hole among the mountains


In the faint moonlight, the gras is singing


Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel


There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.


It has no windows, and the door swings,


Dry bones can harm no one. (390)


Only a cock stood on the rooftree


Co co rico co co rico


In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust


Bringing rain




Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves


Waited for rain, while the black clouds


Gathered far distant, over Himavant.


The jungle crouched, humped in silence.


Then spoke the thunder


DA (400)


Datta: what have we given?


My friend, blood shaking my heart


The awful daring of a moment's surrender


Which an age of prudence can never retract


By this, and this only, we have existed


Which is not to be found in our obituaries


Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider


Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor


In our empty rooms


DA (410)


Dayadhvam: I have heard the key


Turn in the door once and turn once only


We think of the key, each in his prison


Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison


Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours


Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus




Damyata: The boat responded


Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar


The sea was calm, your heart would have responded (420)


Gaily, when invited, beating obedient


To controlling hands




I sat upon the shore


Fishing, with the arid plain behind me


Shall I at least set my lands in order?




London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down


Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina


Quando fiam uti chelidon —


O swallow swallow


Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie


These fragments I have shored against my ruins (430)


Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.


Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.


Shantih shantih shantih