The Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. Eliot

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4. ‘O swallow, swallow, flying flying south/Fly to her, and fall upon her gilded eaves/And tell her, tell her what I tell to thee ’ – a poem by Tennyson in which the swallow flies south to the speaker’s beloved and tells her how much he loves her.
5. Le Prince… - ‘I am the dark one, the widower, the unconsoled,/ The Prince of Aquitaine whose tower is destroyed :/My only star is dead, and my constellated lute/Bears the black sun of the Melancholy.// In the night of the Tomb, You who consoled me,/Give me back Mount Posilipo and the Italian sea,/The flower my desolate heart liked so much,/And the trellis where the grapevine unites with the rose.’ – The French poet Gerard de Nerval laments the loss of past love in characteristically symbolic terms. The destroyed tower suggests the crushing of hopes (or possibly even impotence).
6. ‘Why then Ile fit you’ – from Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronymo’s mad againe . The main character Hieronymo agrees to entertain his son’s murderers with an entertainment – a tragedy – in which he invites them to act various parts. In the course of the ‘play within a play’ they are all assassinated, revenging his son’s death, which has driven Hieronymo mad.
7. ‘Shantih shantih shantih’ – these words traditionally end the Hindu Upanishads, but the last stanza of the Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad is one of the most famous in Hinduism and seems particularly resonant for The Waste Land : ‘Asato Ma Sat Gamaya/ Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya/ Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya/ Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.’ – ‘Lead us from the unreal to the real,/ Lead us from darkness to light,/ Lead us from death to immortality, /Om [ the universal sound of God ] Let there be peace peace peace.’

The Hollow Men

The Hollow Men has two epigraphs, one from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the other derived from the tradition of creating a ‘guy’ or scarecrow-like figure of Guy Fawkes for burning on the 5th November. The first epigraph – ‘ Mr Kurtz – he dead ’ – was originally intended for The Waste Land , underlining the obviously close connections between these two poems. Conrad’s short novel has had a widespread influence on twentieth century culture; it inspired, for example, Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now . It takes as its premise the idea of a physical journey up a river into the darkest regions of the Congo and turns this into a metaphorical journey that explores the spiritual emptiness of the human soul.

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T.S. Eliot