The Burial of The Dead: by T.S Eliot - Summary & Analysis

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      The title refers firstly to The Burial of the Dead fertility and secondly, the burial service of the Christian church. It is believed that both burials are followed by re-birth. However, the denizens (the citizens) of The Waste Land are spiritually dead. They do not like to be disturbed by their stupor or the futile routine of modern life. As such any idea of spiritual regeneration is uninviting and painful to them. Moreover, their value system is different from the traditional one. April is traditionally regarded as a symbol of spring and re-birth, while winter is a symbol of decay and death. However, for the wastelanders, April is a bad and cruel month because it reminds them of their spiritual decay and makes them think of re-generation - They are happy in winter because they can enjoy and make merry during that period.

Only the Christian church can offer a shelter to humanity. The shadow of the red rock (Christian church) is different from the shadow of man which is fleeting. The sheet-anchor or the pillar which can save modern man is spiritualism.
Burial of the Dead


      The Burial of the Dead (L. 1-7): The Burial of the Dead means spiritual decadence and death of the waste landers. For the waste landers, April is the cruelest month which brings birth to flowers from the land. These flowers imply re-birth which requires some effort on their part. The waste-landers do not wish to put any spiritual effort and as such April is unwelcome to them. April mixes memory with desire, the memory of the death, of fertility god along with the desire for re-birth. April brings with it the life-giving rain which is disliked by the waste landers. They, however, like winter, which is a symbol of spiritual death. It keeps them warm and looking for excitement and joy in life. Though winter feeds life a little, it is the season for the joys of the flesh.

      Rootlessness of the modern man (L. 8-18): "These lines contain thoughts of Tiresias, he spokesman of the poem, who is a representative of the modern world." Tiresias and his girlfriend were traveling in Germany, when they were overtaken by summer rain. They took shelter under the columns of the trees and thereafter walked in the sun-shine of the Hof-garten, where they drank coffee and gossiped for an hour. Marie says: "I am not Russian at all; I come from Lithuania; Lama real German." When Marie was a child, she stayed with her cousin, the Arch-duke. He took her out on a sled and she was much frightened. He asked her to hold the sled tightly and they traveled down together. They felt quite free when they wandered into the mountains. Now, she spends her time reading till late at the night. During winter, she goes to the south to enjoy her holidays. 

      Chaos in the Wasteland ( L. 18-30): What kind of trees and fruits grow out of barren and dead wasteland? The answer is in the negative. Nothing spiritual can grow in the barren land. Man can find only broken images which are the remains of old cultures and values since abandoned by man. There is no shelter from the heat of the sun, under the shade of dead trees. The singing cricket gives no entertainment and there is no sound of water to provide relief or hope. There is only one refuge namely the red rock of the Christian faith. "Man can find a shelter in the message of Christ". The shadow of faith is immortal and much different from the shadow of man who is mortal. In youth, man's shadow is behind him. In old age, man's shadow comes in front of him, so to say, to meet him easily. Man is haunted by the fear of death and the anger of God. Essentially man is handful of dust who is in fear of death.

      Two episodes of guilty love (L. 31-42): "This is the passage from Wagner's Opera entitled Tristan and Isolde, a story of guilty love". "The wind blows fresh to the homeland. My Irish girl, where are you lingering?" (This is the song of the sailor about the sweetheart he has left behind).

      "The second story of guilty love is that of the hyacinth girl and her lover". The hyacinth girl says to her lover: You gave me hyacinth flowers, (these flowers are symbolic of sensuous love) a year ago. People, therefore, call me the hyacinth girl. When we came back late from the hyacinth garden, I could not speak a word and I could not see anything. I was neither living nor dead. I was not conscious as I stood looking at the core of life, which is silent. (This is a feeling due to guilty love. The last line of the stanza is from Wagner's Opera mentioned above). It means: "desolate and empty the sea." This is the reply of the watchman from whom the lover inquires if there is any sign of a ship on the sea bringing his beloved. The reply is in the negative.

      A Modern Fortune-teller (L. 43-59): Madame Sosostris, the famous fortune teller was suffering from a bad cold. She is known as the wisest Woman in Europe, because she tells the fortunes of people with her pack of cards. To one of her customers, she said: "Here is your card, the drowned Phoenician sailor. Look at his eyes. They are like pearls. Here is another card Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks, and the lady of sexual situations. Here is yet another card of the man with three sticks. Here is another card representing the Wheel. Here is another card of one-eyed merchant. Here is yet another card, which is blank, which indicates something which the merchant carries on his back and which I cannot forecast. There is no card of the hanged man (Christ). Here is another card for those who should be careful of death by drowning. I see crowds of people walking mechanically in a circle. Thank you. If you meet, my friend, Mrs. Equitone, tell her I have prepared her horoscope and shall bring it myself. I must be very careful these days. (The fortune teller practiced an ill-legal business, and therefore she is afraid of the police).

      Unreal City, London (L. 60-68): Under the blanket of a brown fog on a winter morning, a crowd of people passes over the London bridge. There are so many people that they cannot be counted. I never thought that so many people were spiritually dead. As these people walk, they give forth short and occasional sighs. Each man walked mechanically with downcast eyes. The crowd moved up the hill and down the road to King William Street, where it passed the church of St. Mary Woolnoth. The church clock chimed the hour of nine as the crowd proceeded along the road.

      Stetson, the representative of 'The Waste Land' (L. 69-79): "Tiresias-the protagonist and the mouth-piece of T.S. Eliot appear the stage and addresses his friend Stetson. who is walking in London street". In the street, I saw an acquaintance of mine. I stopped him and called him by his name 'Stetson' and said: "You were with me in the ships at Mylae, what happened to that corpse which you planted last year in your garden? Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? Or has this sudden frost disturbed its bed and blighted its growth. (The reference is to the resurrection after death which is the sign of spiritual re-birth). Oh! keep the dog away from the corpse-the dog is the friend of man-or with his nails he will dig up the earth again." (The last line is a quotation from Baudelaire's poem. It means as under): "You hypocrite reader, my fellow man, my brother." (This warning given to Stetson is applicable to all men of the modern world that there is no chance of spiritual re-birth and regeneration in the wasteland).


      Modern sterility and rootlessness. Through a protagonist named Tiresias, T. S. Eliot gives his impressions of modern people. Tiresias has come across a German princess. She is fond of travel. She is an example of a rootless modern person. She has no connection with her family, community and nation. She is a kind of international globe-trotter, fond of the physical comforts of life. As they go through Munich they are overtaken by a shower of rain. They do not realize the purifying power of rain but rather seek shelter from it.

      Spiritual Wasteland: Tiresias has a close look at modern civilization and his assessment is that it is wholly futile and dead. The stone, the trees and the sun, the broken idols all represent the spiritual wasteland Nothing spiritual, heroic and idealistic can grow in this unproductive land. There is no shelter from the heat of the sun. Only the Christian church can offer shelter to humanity. The shadow of the red rock (Christian church) is different from the shadow of man which is fleeting. The sheet-anchor or the pillar which can save modern man is spiritualism. Man is a handful of dust. He can be immortal if he follows the Christian way. The modern wasteland is very much like the wasteland mentioned in the Bible. If Christ was able to regenerate man in the past, he can do so in the present time also.

      Obstacles in Spiritualism - Sex: Sex occupies a very prominent place in modern life. At one time, sex was considered as a means of human development. Great men and spiritual leaders used sex as the stepping stone. From physical love to spiritual love is the way of many mystics. Unfortunately, sex today has become an animal urge without any moral or social commitment. Eliot gives two examples of guilty love-love which brings misery and death. The first example is from Wagner's Opera; it is the story of Tristan and Isolde. The second example is the recent one to be extended more. The story of Hyacinth girl. Both the examples show the barrenness, boredom and frustration of mundane sex.

      Gambling: Madame Sosostris - the fortune-teller. Another hurdle in the way of spiritual progress is gambling. In any big city, one will come across this evil in different forms. Eliot mentions Madame Sosostris - a society fortune-teller who is afraid of the police. She has a pack of seventy-eight cards, through which she tells the fortune of her customers. The important cards in her Tarot-pack are the drowned Phoenician sailor, Belladona - the Lady of the Rocks (sex pimp), the man with the three staves, the wheel, the one-eyed merchant and the crowds of the people. The different things mentioned in the cards are elaborated in the remaining section of the poem.

      London-the unreal city: Eliot calls London the unreal city because it has no vitality and substance. The people lack faith and character and they are the citizens of the spiritual wasteland, Crowds of people go over London Bridge at nine o'clock in the morning for work. This hour (nine o clock) has a reference to Christ's crucifixion. When commerce begins, Christianity goes out. Eliot laments the lot of Londoners because they are leading a kind of life, which may be called 'Life-in-death.' They are spiritually barren and dead.

      No hope of resurrection (Corpse cannot come back to life): Tiresias who is the mouthpiece of the poet, recognizes one man named Stetson who had fought with him in the war. He asks him whether the corpse which he had planted in his garden has bloomed. He further advises him to keep the dog away from the corpse as he may dig it up and thereby eliminate the chance of re-birth. The "dog" is a symbol of conscience, which is likely to awaken humanity to its spiritual decay. The idea behind the corpse and the dog is that without faith and conscience man cannot be reborn, he cannot fulfill his spiritual destiny.


      Lines 1-18. April is the cruelest month, south in the winter. The poem begins with the month of April, which ushers the spring season. Nature which is dead and cold during the winter season, is revived and brought back to life by the spring rain. The roots of plants which earlier were covered by the winter snow, now began to blossom. The spring seems to unite the past and the future, the past that is dead and the future which is yet to come. Here, Eliot calls the spring the cruelest month, because it brings back life and activity to all objects of nature, which however like to remain dead and inactive. Looking at the wasteland, the poet observes that April is a bad month because the plants like human beings do not want to get a new life. They are quite content and happy with winter - "winter kept us warm." Winter stands for a life of comfort, of physical joy when the spiritual and moral values are dead and forgotten. For the modern man who is spiritually dead, aril which is the season of rebirth, seems to be the cruelest month of the year. He likes death better than rebirth because rebirth will stir up the spiritual side of the mind and make him desire his blissful seat in heaven:

      One is reminded of Chaucer's The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales where the poet refers to April "with sweet showers." This offers a contrast to the opening line of The Waste Land. While Chaucer regarded April as the season of rebirth and new life, urging men to spiritual adventure like a pilgrimage to the church of the martyr-saint of Canterbury, Eliot harps on the negative spirit of spring when modern man is afraid of a spiritual birth. He seems to be happy and contented with the physical enjoyments of the winter season. A German princess-Countess Marie Larisch-appears on the scene and becomes the exponent of a modern person. She says: "I am not Russian at all; I come from Lithuania: I am a real German." She recounts the memories of her childhood. She refers to an earlier event when she and her friend were caught in the summer rain. They all took shelter under a circular roof. As soon as the rain stopped, they walked to Hofgarten, a public park in Munich. There they had coffee and gossiped for an hour. She also refers to another event in her childhood when she was staying with her cousin - the Archduke. She was told to get into a sled but she was frightened. Her cousin bucked her up and she was able to get into the sled and go down the mountains where she had a good relaxation, she recalled the memories of reading books at night and going to the south in the winter for warm weather. The narration of the experiences of the German Princess shows that she is the representative of the modern cosmopolitan society which is in search of physical enjoyment and recreation. Coffee house and gossip kept her busy. She is very superficial and rootless. This is the tragic situation of the people of the modern world. Other-wise the soul which lies buried in the corpse has no chance of sprouting into life. In the last line, the poet quotes a line from Baudelaire which means "O hypocrite reader, my fellow man, my brother." Obviously the warning which is meant for Stetson, is also applicable to the citizen of the modern wasteland. This is a warning to them that they are like the buried corpses which have no chance of resurrection.

      The Burial of the Dead. It is the title of the first section of the poem The Waste Land. It is also the title of the Burial service in the Church of England.

L. 1. The cruelest month: April is generally considered to be the beginning of the spring season. It is a happy month because it brings with it rain and fresh flowers which are a sign of re-birth. For the modern man who is spiritually dead, April is the cruelest month for he has no desire for re-birth and spiritual life. Breeding: producing; creating.

L. 2. Lilacs: a kind of flower. The dead land: the ground in winter which is full of snow.

L. 2 & 3. Mixing memory and desire: The modem waste landers are reminded of re-birth which takes place in April. The desire refers to the, spiritual awakening or regeneration of the individual. Thus "mixing of memory and desire" means that though the modern man is alive to the need of spiritual regeneration, yet he has no desire to make any effort. He is quite happy with his own condition which may be called "death-in-life." Stirring: awakening; reviving.

L. 4. Dull roots: Roots of plants covered with winter snow.

L. 5. Winter kept us warm: For the waste landers, winter is a happy season because it means enjoyment. Most of them go to the warmer places in search of pleasure or kept at home and indulge in merrymaking.

L. 6 & 7. Feeding a little life: Life is at the lower ebb because there is very little activity. Tubers: roots.

L. 8. Summer surprised us. Summer is a symbol of rebirth and spiritual awakening. The wastelanders do not take it kindly. Stranbergerses: a lake near Munich in West Germany.

L. 9. colonnade: a row of trees.

L. 10. Hofgarten: public park in Munich.

L. 12. Bin gar....echt deusch: these words are spoken by Marie La risch. They mean I am not Russian at all; I come from Lithuania; I am real German. Deutsch: German.

L. 14. sled: a vehicle drawn by horses or dogs or pushed by hand over snow.

L. 16. hold on tight: catch the sled tightly so that you may not fall down.

L. 17. there you feel free: You are free from intrigues and sex adventures.

L. 18. go south in the winter: the south is warm and free from snow and cold.

      L. 19-42. What are the roots.........Oed'und leer das Meer. Eliot now presents another scene in The Waste Land of the modern civilization. The old civilization with its values and conventions is dead and gone, leaving only a heap of broken images. Nothing seems to grow out of its stony wasteland. There is an old tree lying on the ground. It represents the good individual who once functioned like a shady tree and proved beneficial to others, but is no more. The barren land is full of crickets but their music gives no satisfaction.

      The stony wilderness is symbolic of the spiritual barrenness. An angelic voice tells the protagonist to stand under the great rock (the Christian church) which represents God's strength. The shadow of the rock is unchanging. It is an embodiment of eternity. The shadows of the mortals, however, keep changing. The shadow falls behind the man in his youth as his career opens out in front. But with the passage of time the shadow falls in front of him, in the evening of life. This shows that man is essentially a heapful of dust. The fear of death keeps man under great tension. It is only pure love which rids man of fear. The godless man is always in the grip of fear. The poet gives an example of fear in love or the pangs of unrequited love or the pain of satisfied love. He refers to the story of Tristan who had a guilty passion for Isolde. This guilty love proved fatal. The song in the poem refers to Tristan, who mortally wounded, awaits the arrival of his beloved. He is punished by king Mark, to whom Isolde was to be married. Tristan inquires of the watchman if the ship is bringing his beloved. The reply of the watchman is negative: "Empty and desolate is the sea" sums up the despair and the grief of the guilty lover.

      The poet then gives the story of the Hyacinth girl. This is the first experience of a young lover. The lover is terribly excited. Like the love of Tristan, the love of this young man is also a guilty love as he makes love to the girl secretly in the garden. This sort of love is not free from fear and anxiety. The feeling of the lover is summed up in the line: "I was neither living nor dead and I knew nothing." so love offers no joy or relaxation under the conditions of modern life. Eliot is essentially Puritan and he condemns the laxity in sexual relationship, so common in the modern age.

L. 19 & 20. What are the roots......stony rubbish: Tiresias asks these questions. He is reflecting on the Waste Land - its lack of spirituality. No roots or trees can grow here because of barren or rocky soil. The modern world is a spiritual waste land. Son of man: It refers to Christ.

L. 22. A heap of broken images: These words stand for the loss of spiritual values in the modern world. Where the sun beats: Land where excessive heat makes vegetation impossible. The phrase is symbolic of spiritual desolation and barrenness.

L. 23. Dead tree: Lack of shelter. Again, dead tree stands for complete barrenness of modern civilization. The cricket: The music of the cricket does not offer any relaxation. Again it stands for the desolation of the contemporary world.

L. 25. Red rock: It stands for the Christian church. The shadow of the red rock refers to the shelter offered by the message of Christ. This is the only way for the survival of modern civilization.

L. 26. Shadow of this red rock: This refers to the eternal shelter offered by religion (Christianity). This shadow is permanent.

L. 27. Something different from either: The poet mentions two types of shadows. Firstly, there is the shadow of Christian church which offers shelter and salvation. The second 'shadow' is the 'man’s'—the mortality which accompanies him throughout his career and which ultimately leads to death.

L. 28. Striding: Walking or appearing. Your shadow at morning: In the morning, when we face the Sun, the shadow appears behind us. Man is full of hope and life is in front of him. So he is indifferent to death.

L. 29. shadow of evening: This refers to the shadow of old age when death advances to meet the individual.

L. 30. Fear in a handful of dust: This is the constant fear and tension to which man is subject throughout his life. It also includes the fear of death which haunts man from the beginning to the end.

L. 31-34. Frisch weht....weilest du: This quotation has been taken from the opera of Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. The meaning of this quotation is: "The wind blows fresh from the homeland. My Irish child, where are you lingering?" The reference is to a sailor who left behind his sweetheart and is singing a song of her separation.

L. 35. hyacinths: Kind of bulbous plant of various colors, specially purplish blue; symbol of sensuous love.

L. 36. Hyacinth girl: A young lady now forgotten by her lover.

L. 38. Your arms full, and your hair wet: This shows the excitement of the secret love affair between the hyacinth girl and her lover.

L. 39 & 40. Neither living nor dead: This is the excitement of the guilty love. The lover is neither conscious nor unconscious.

L. 42. Oed's and leer das Meer: This is another quotation taken from the German Opera namely, Tristan and Isolde written by Richard Wagner. The meaning is: "Empty and desolate, the sea." The dejected Tristan is lying on the sea-shore who is waiting for his beloved Isolde. But unfortunately, there are no signs of the arrival of the ship. Hence, the sea appears empty to the lover. What the poet means is that their love is guilty as it is outside marriage. Thus, there is the tragic end to this kind of love. Such guilty love does not give a sense of satisfaction. Eliot conveys this idea to the reader that in the modern age, love has a degenerated into lust. Hence there is no longer life-giving and vital sense of satisfaction in the love affairs of the present age.

      The hyacinth girl is in fact a young and beautiful lady of the present age who has now been forgotten by her lover. A year ago this emotional lady came in contact with the lover who had intense and profound sentiments for her. At their love was lusty; the lover lost his senses. He had no mystical eyes that could see into the heart of this lady some symptoms of eternity. Hence, there is desolation and emptiness in his heart, so modern love is portrayed by the poet without mysticism. The poet does not consider that love outside marriage is sacred in the past as well as in the present. Both the stories of Tristan and Isolde and of hyacinth girl of the present age indicates that this type of love has never brought satisfaction in the past nor there is likelihood of it resulting in happiness in the present or in the future.

      Lines 43-59 Madame sosostris.....careful these days. Eliot gives another example of a society woman who is not other than a cunning fortune-teller. He refers to the ancient fertility ritual in Egypt where weather-prophets use to forecast the rise and fall of waters of the river Nile with the help of Tarot pack of seventy-eight cards. Under the law, fortune-telling is a criminal and undesirable business and the pack of cards is nothing but a wicked game. He cites example of Madame Sosostris, the famous fortune-teller who was considered the wisest woman in Europe. The card of the drowned sailor indicates something destructive, but which can at the same time be interpreted as something good and beautiful. This has a reference to Ariel's song in The Tempest where the eyes of the drowned man are converted into pearls. The lady of situations is the promoter of love-intrigues and is a sexual pimps. The man with the three staves refers to the Fisher King as a lusty but important man in need of three qualities (DA, DA, DA) for spiritual and physical regeneration. Then there is the card of the wheel which may stand for the wheel of Dharma or the ship of the drowned sailor. The one-eyed merchant is the modern man whose eye of commerce has survived, but whose second eye of religion is blinded. In the ancient world, both religion and commerce were united for the good of the community. The hanged man refers to Christ who was crucified and whose card is not to be found in the pack which indicates his absence from this miserable world. The crowd of the people refers to the office going men and women. These people seem to lead aimless and futile lives in a cycle of routine. Madame Sosostris tells one of her clients that she will bring the horoscope and then tell the future of her client. The Madame must be careful in making predictions because her art and craft is not recognized by the police, she lives in constant fear of the custodians of the law.

L. 43. clairvoyant: the faculty of seeing mentally what is happening out of sight; a person of exceptional insight. In other words, it refers to fortune teller whose name is Madame Sosostris. It appears, the poet has borrowed the name of this fortune-teller from Aldous Huxley's novel Crome Yellow in which Sosostris is a fake fortune-teller. She tells the fortunes of her clients. Hence she is considered the wisest woman in Europe. She is popular because she can predict truly. Her reputation is known far and wide.

L. 46. a wicked pack of cards: Seventy-eight cards known as the Tarot Pack, were originally used in Egypt to forecast the rise of the waters of the Nile. Now the function of the pack has degenerated into the wishful fortune-telling.

L. 47. the drowned phoenican Sailor: The card has reference to the fourth part of the poem entitled Death by Water. This has a double meaning which is firstly, drowning-something fearful and destructive. Secondly; this indicates the process of re-birth as shown in the Ariel's song in The Tempest where the eye of the drowned man is changed into a pearl.

L. 49. Here is Belladonna....the Rocks: Belladonna generally means a beautiful lady. The lady of the Rocks refers in painting of Virgin Mary by Leonardo De Vinci entitled Madonna of the Rocks. This refers to the figures on the cards of the Tarot pack.

L. 50. The lady of situations: This refers to the figures on the card of a woman who is promoter of love-intrigues and sexual contacts.

L. 51. Here is the man with three slaves: This card stands for Fisher King. The three sticks (stages) symbolize the three-fold way to salvation mentioned later by Eliot as Da Da Da meaning to give, to sympathize and to control. The Wheel: the wheel has a number of meanings. It symbolizes Buddha's wheel of Dharma in The Fire Sermon. It may also refer to the wheel of ship linked with the Phoenician Sailor. This word may also refer to encircling water of the whirlpool mentioned in the fourth section of the poem. Finally, the 'Wheel’ may also mean a wheel of time which governs this world.

L. 52. the one-eyed merchant: This refers to the merchant of Smyrna mentioned in the third section who has one eye namely, the eye of commerce. The second eye of religion is dead. It may be mentioned that the merchants of olden times supplied both consumer goods as well as mystical and philosophical things. In the modern world the merchants supply only merchandise. The one-eyed merchant refers to Mr. Eugenides the merchant mentioned in The Fire Sermon of the third section of The Waste Land (1.209).

L. 52 & 53. This card, which is blank: This refers to the card which has nothing mentioned or figured on it. Previously, this card signifies the mysteries of religion. The merchants carry this card but it has no religious truth mentioned therein.

L. 54. Which I am forbidden to see: The wastelanders are not in a position to understand the spiritual truths. They are so degenerated that to them the card of religion appears blank.

L. 55. The Hanged Man: The hanged man refers to either the fertility god or crucified Christ. Madame Sosostris does not find the card of hanged man in her Tarot Pack. This signifies that the modern men are blind to spiritual truths like the significance of the crucified Christ or the sacrifice of the fertility god mentioned by Frazer, Fear death by water: this card shows death by drowning. It was shown to the people whose death by drowning was predicted by Madame Sosostris.

L. 56. I see crowds of people: This refers to the crowd passing through London bridge; walking in a ring signifies their aimless routine.

L. 57. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone: Madame Sosostris gives a message to her listeners to be conveyed to one of her clients namely Mrs. Equitone. The Madame has prepared Mrs. Equitone horoscope.

L. 58. Tell her....myself: This is the message for Mrs. Equitone. The Madame will take the horoscope herself to Mrs. Equitone.

L. 59. One must...days: The Madame expresses her fear and anxiety because fortune telling by cards is an illegal business. So she must be very careful lest the police should catch her.

L. 60. Unreal City: The unreal city is a phrase taken from Baudlaires poem. It refers to Paris. In the context of The Waste Land the unreal city refers to Eliot's London. The city of London is unreal because there is no sense of community life and it lacks the spiritual component of growth. Its isolation, its loneliness, its routine and its materialism make it an unreal city. It is full of mechanical people-Robots-and not living human beings.

      Lines 60-76. Unreal City.....Sem blable.....mon frere! This stanza deals with the barrenness of city life in modern civilization. The unreal city refers to London though it can represent any European capital like Paris or Amsterdam Bauldaire, the French poet calls Paris the "unreal city". The dead routine of office-goers and workers as they wind their way through the crowd (on a winter morning) or as they go across the London bridge, shows the futility and the emptiness of our civilization. There is a reference to Dante's "Inferno". Dante standing at the gate of hell, wonders at the multitude of people is passing through hell- The inference is that the crowd of people is passing through hell (that is London). There is another reference to Dante's epic when he stands before Limbo. Here he listens to the sighs of many souls. These are the souls of good people who could not be saved by the Saviour. The reference is that the London crowd also includes people who are good and kind but have no faith in any religion. As the crowd reaches King William Street, the Church clock strikes the hour of nine. This was the time for opening of offices and factories in 1929 when this poem was written. It may be noted that the death of Christ occurred at the ninth hour of the day. The reference is that when business life begins, Christ is no more. In the modern civilization, the world of commerce is entirely different from the world of God. When man becomes a wage-earner; his soul is deadened by routine. It may amount to negation of the spiritual side of man. Business and spirituality cannot go together.

      Eliot stops a person, in the crowd whose name is Stetson. He recognizes the soldier who had fought by his side in the first Punic war at Mylae. This reminds one the First World War (1914-1918). Like the Punic war (260 B.C. between Rome and Carthage which was due to commercial rivalry) the First World War was also prompted by business and political motives. The poet questions Stetson about the corpse which he had planted in his garden last year. Had it bloomed this year? The reference is to the burial of Christ and resurrection later on. If one has faith in God, resurrection is possible. The corpse will sprout into a new life. With the loss of faith in religion, resurrection and rebirth will become meaningless. The basic idea is that under the conditions of modern civilization, with the loss of faith in moral and spiritual values, the rebirth of man is improbable. The poet asks his friend further whether the corpse has been disturbed by the frost or by the dog, in which case it can never sprout and bloom. The dog may stand for the Dog star which heralds the rise of Nile water and thus brings fertility to the barren soil. Dog may also stand for some destructive by the dog may refer to the unfriendly cults, and philosophies which are said to be friendly to man, but are infact inimical to his spiritual life. For example science and communism are the philosophies which aim at increasing the happiness and material well-being of man, but they are anti-religious as they do not take into account the spiritual requirements of human beings. Man is not only the body but also soul. These philosophies neglect the soul, and surely man cannot live by bread alone.

L. 61. Under the....winter dawn: the scene of a wintry morning covered with fog is symbolic of the desolation and spiritual decay.

L. 62. A many: The line is parallel to Dante's line in the Inferno where Dante watches many people passing through hell. This crowd of hell contains souls of those who led a kind of negative life in this world.

L. 63. I many: This line has also a reference to Dante's line in the Inferno. He exclaims as he stands before hell: "such a long stream of people I never believe that death had undone so many." Eliot refers to the crowd of London clerks and workman moving mechanically over the London bridge.

L. 64. Sighs....were exhaled: This line has reference to Dante's Divine Comedy. As Dante stands in the region called Limbo, he says: "Here, there was to be heard no sound of lamentation, only sigh which disturb the eternal aim. The sighs, refer to the sounds made by the souls of good people who died before Christ. As they were not Christians, they could not be saved by Christ. So they are disturbed by their unrealized desire for salvation.

L. 65. And each....his feet: This refers to the people walking over the London bridge. They do not look up; they look down. Their lines are dull; their faces look sad; their eyes are downcast. They seem to be physically alive but spiritually dead.

L. 66. Flowed up....William Street: The crowd after passing through the London bridge goes up the hill and then turns to King William's street. This is an actual street near the London docks.

L. 67. To where...the hours: The crowd moves towards church of Saint Mary Woolnoth which has a big clock-tower.

L. 68. With a dead....stroke of nine: As the crowd passes near the church at nine o'clock, the hour for the opening of offices, the church clock gives nine chimes. The dead sound refers to the painfulness of feeling of London crowd. It is the beginning of another boring and mechanical day. Further, it may be noted that the line refers to the hour of the day (nine in the morning) when Christ was crucified. This means that when business begins, Christ dies. In the modern mechanical and commercial world, there is a negation of spiritual values. The devotion to business is a denial of Christ.

L. 69. There I saw....Stetson: Just as Dante stopped a person in the crowded Inferno and questioned him, in the same way Tiresias stops a person in the crowd. The man's name is 'Stetson' whom Tiresias knows as a friend.

L. 70. You Mylae: Tiresias recognizes him as the fellow soldier in the First World War. He, however, refers to Mylae, the scene of the Punic war between Rome and Carthage. The similarity between ancient (Punic) war and the First World war (1914-1918) lies in the fact that both were prompted, by commercial interests. The ships refer to warships as well as to ships carrying merchandise.

L. 71. That corpse....your garden: This refers to the ancient ritual when the effigy of the dead Corngod—Osiris, was buried with corn stock over it. The sprouting of the corn showed the revival of fertility and the commencement of sowing season. The conversation between Tiresias and Stetson has reference to the title of this section which is The Burial of the Dead. The Burial and the re-birth of fertility god has a reference to the burial and resurrection of Christ. Resurrection refers to sprouting of a new life out of the old. Re-birth depends primarily on spiritual death.

L. 72. Has it...this year: The protagonist asks Stetson whether the corpse will sprout and bring forth a new life. The assumption is that Stetson's corpse has little chance of re-birth on account of his spiritual blankness and his lack of faith.

L. 73. Or has the....its bed. The frost refers to spiritual failure and moral cowardice. Without firm faith in resurrection, their is no hope of re-birth.

L. 74. O keep the Dog. The Dog refers to spiritual awareness or faith which will rouse man to the sense of spiritual failure. The word 'Dog' may also refer to the 'Dog star'—Sirius which symbolizes the rise of the Nile water and the return of fertility to the soil. The 'Dog' has also a symbolic meaning and may refer to forces and philosophies of the modern world which are outwardly beneficial to human beings but are really harmful for his spiritual life. Such modern forces are science and communism. They are conducive to man's physical comfort but they undermine his spiritual values.

L. 75. Or with his"...up again; This refers to the activity of the dog who generally digs up earth with his nails.

L. 76. You! hypocrite.....mon frere: This line is taken from Baudelaire's poem contained in the volume entitled Flowers of Evil. The meaning of the line is: "You hypocritical reader (Lecture my fellow man (mon semblable), my brother (monfrere).'! The warning of the protagonist (Tiresias) to Stetson is applicable to all residents of the modern waste land. The ides is that the modern man is quite hypocritical. He is indifferent to the spiritual values, though he talks of moral values and spiritual regeneration. The spiritual re-birth requires a lot of effort and positive action which the modern man is incapable of doing. This line shows the despair of the poet who thinks that spiritual regeneration is a very distant possibility.

      Conclusion: The first section is a statement about the modern man and his civilization. He has lost faith in moral and spiritual values. He has taken to sex, gambling and violence, which have dried up sources of his vitality. Re-birth is possible only through the revival of spiritual values.

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