“Requiem ” by R.L.Stevenson

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie,
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

What a beautiful death poem , by a tuberculular poet embracing death with a will. Will is the testament that expresses the dying man’s wish which is that the following verse be engraved as his epitaph:

Here he lies where he longed to be
Home is the sailor, home from sea
and the hunter home from the hill

Listen to the music of the lines:

The recurrence of d’s haunt you like death in the first stanza, sounding its inevitability :

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie
GlaD DiD I live and glaDly Die
and I laiD me Down with a will

“Under the wide and starry sky” is how the occupant of a narrow grave may view the vast expanse of the sky -at once wide(not infinite) and starry.

Dig the grave and let me lie

Grave is the resting place, also a serious thing. Grave is the noun here, while grave in the next stanza is a verb equivalent to engrave, meaning engraving the letters of the verse on the grave stone. Dig the grave here has almost the modern meaning of “dig” meaning what one likes, loves or enjoys ( as in I dig this song). Especially after the poet says “gladly die” and wants to lie where he always wanted to be.

“Here he lies where he longed to be”

Connect it to the next lines where the sailor is home from sea and the hunter from the hill. where he wants to **be**? In the sea and in the hills one could **be** but in the grave?But then it is only “be” that goes musical with “me”. All one’s achievements in life , either on the sea or in the mountains go to nought and finally one has to return to this home after all.

Glad did I live and gladly die

The poet lived a glad life and has no complaints. Does it mean that he had indeed a glad life? of course not.He is just glad that he lived(glad,did I live).Or may be he lived indeed a glad life and now he is dying and he will lie gladly in his new home under the wide and starry sky.


Interesting usage at different places in the poem. Be means to live, to exist, the opposite of death which is nonexistence. Can one long to be in grave ?

This be the verse you grave for me : Here “be” suggests an irrovacable option, a testament that has to be implemented.

the hunter home from the hill
the sailor home from sea

The alliterations with “h” and “s” are beautiful. Note the hunter is home from the hill but the sailor is home from sea.The hunter goes to a hill (not for a prolonged stay there) but the sailor comes back home after long absences.

“Long Live The Weeds”- By Theodore Roethke

Long live the weeds that overwhelm
My narrow vegetable realm! -
The bitter rock, the barren soil
That force the son of man to toil;
All things unholy, marked by curse,
The ugly of the universe.
The rough, the wicked and the wild
That keep the spirit undefiled.
With these I match my little wit
And earn the right to stand or sit,
Hope, look, create, or drink and die:
These shape the creature that is I.

Taking off from where Hopkins left in his poem Inversnaid, Theodore Roethke , now spending his time in a greenhouse is hugely occupied by weeds that force the gardener to work so hard ! Hopkins asked what would the world be if bereft of the wet and wilderness and said let them be left and long live the weeds and the wilderness yet. Roethke’s own vegetable realm is narrow and small but one is a monarch of all that one surveys(realm),but his rights there is somebody to dispute. The weeds make one toil like the son of man, struggling with a barren wild and a red rock under whose shadow you see fear in a handful of dust.The bitter rock .The barren soil. You have to make it alive. Do we need the weeds? Why does one have to struggle to keep them away from the narrow garden?Because the struggle is worth it. It is because of the weeds that the spirit is alive. We try to pit our limited wit against their enormous capacity to grow and flourish without any external support.We earn our right to stand or sit ,hope look,create drink or die and they shape the creature that is I.

Overwhelm/narrow vegetable realm is not a rhyming music. The metaphor inside is music. The garden (garden of Eden?) is overwhelmed by weeds . The weeds ,like the bitter rock and the barren soil, are the ugly and unholy things of the garden. Haven’t the evil forces represented by the fallen angel forced the Son of God to toil all the harder for it ? It is the rough and the wicked that keep the spirit undefiled. We do need the weeds . Not the way Hopkins said we needed them. Hopkins looked at the beauty of the world made by the wet and wilderness and the weeds that grow in the wild adding to the raw beauty of the landscape . Roethke is glad weeds make him toil hard to keep his garden beautiful.But for them we would not work hard to keep our garden beautiful. The way the weeds make us toil shapes our personality, giving us the strength to fight the forces of adversity.

The Biblical metaphor takes us back to the story of the Garden of Eden:

OF MAN’S first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse…

Paradise Lost by John Milton

The narrow vegetable realm is the Garden of Eden, that was lost to Adam and Eve on account of their first disobedience. The weeds are the unholy things that abound in the garden and need to be removed for the good and the holy to flourish.The greater man , son of God appears and restores the pristine garden but he must toil in the barren soil and the wild rock , with the weeds that overwhelm the vegetable realm. The struggle with rough and the wicked keep the spirit undefiled. Faith in the Holy Trinity-God , Son of God, and the Holy Spirit shall keep the garden free of unholy things, the wild and the wicked.

Interesting usages :

Overwhelm : Overwhelm means inundate, bury or drown under a great weight. The weeds overwhelm the beautiful plants of the garden, both in the sense of choking them and not allowing them to grow but in the sense of depriving them of the essential nutrients from the soil. Imagine masses of weeds as a great flood, a deluge that will eventually drown all life in the universe.

The bitter rock: Recall the allusion to the red rock in T.S.Eliot’s The Waste Land

Come in under the shadow of this red rock
I will show you fear in a handful of dust

Son of man : The offspring of Adam and Eve. Recall Eliot’s allusion to the Son of man

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
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.

Marked by curse
: The curse of god by which the rebellious angels fell and became the permanent denizens of Hell. The weeds , the wild rock and the barren soil are in such contrast to the verdant beauty of the original Garden of Eden which man lost due to his first disobedience. And he inherited the unholy things , marked by curse but all that is designed to make him toil harder and regain the original beauty of the garden.

With these I match my little wit : The poet has to be all the time on his toes because the weeds grow phenomenally faster than the regular plants and it takes quite a bit of struggle to keep the garden free of them. He has to exercise all his puny intellect to ensure they are eliminated.
Metaphorically the son of man has to stay away from the vile things of the universe and the temptations that the devil has to offer all the way.

“Trees “-A poem by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

I love the poem for the stark simplicity with which the poet deals with the tree.It is interesting to see the handiwork of a poet compared with God’s.This one does not have any illusion about his own capabilities for creating and admits the foolishness of a poet who thinks he can make things the way God does.No poem can be a work as lovely as a tree.

A comparison of an abstract thing like a poem with a concrete thing, a living one at that -isnt it a little daft? Seems so but not exactly .A tree is a product of design just like a poem. A poem can be lovely but not as a single unique idea. Not a tree whch is Plato’s Idea of a thing of which each individual tree is a copy. All art is a copy of the Idea , which is a unique identity.And each artifice is a copy of an Idea, twice removed from reality and has therefore to be imperfect. The artist can paint a tree ,not make it .The poet can make a poem which is itself a beautiful experience derived from an Idea copied from God’s original.

Within the grand image of a poem compared with a tree are several other beautiful metaphors to describe the traits of a tree. First , tree is a child of the earth.Its hungry mouth is prest against the earth’s sweet bosom, flowing with life sustaining liquid. The tree is then a praying one, with its leafy arms to the sky, thanking its Maker all day for its beautiful existence.Then , in summer it shall wear a beautiful flower in her hair, the Robbins nest that is so grand and so colorful.In winter there will be snow covering its bosom and in monsoon it shall live in an intimate relationship with rain.

The tree is an organic entity that can better be compared with another organic thing.That is why the tree is humanised in all stages of human life and growth. Thus the tree has a hungry mouth for the earth’s bosom like a human infant.It has eyes with which it looks at God all day and arms which it raises to pray to Him.In summer she wears her flowers of a robins’ ‘nest that make her so lovely to look at.A beautiful woman now she has her own bosom covered with snow and last ,she lives with rain in intimate relationship.

But such poems are made easily by fools like the poet .Only God can make trees.

“The Fly”- By William Blake

Little Fly
Thy summer’s play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush’d away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing;
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath;
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

Teeny weenie like the subject fly, the poem is bigger than what it seems.It is not just about a fly but also about three characters from the image in which Blake had set the poem as a text in the trees. The poem is set as a blurb in the trees with a nurse and a toddler in the foreground and a shuttle cock playing girl in the background.Do we need to understand the background to the poem? Not necessary but it does help a better understanding.

The fly is also a man whose wing is casually brushed by a blind hand,probably a recall of the girl’s racquet brushing the feathered shuttle cock .The poet seems looking at the girl playing as he is thoughtlessly brushing the fly and plunges into thought about how thoughtless he has been.Man brushes the fly casually and is himself a fly subject to a similar brushing by a higher power.Fly is man and man is fly ,the way both get brushed with a casualness shocking to the thoughtful man.

There is a lot common between fly and man-both have life .Thought for man makes for life and thoughtlessness is brain death .The fly is helpless against the forces of life and death and so is man who drinks and sings ,till a blind hand brushes his wing.He is a happy fly, if he lives by thought and if thought stops he dies like the fly .The hand that brushes is a random(blind) event ,whether for the fly or for man.

The toddler ,the girl and the nurse associated with man’s birth and his growing are activities that go on like the summer play of a fly till his wing is brushed by some blind hand.

“You are”-A poem by Sylvia Plath

Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo’s mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools’ Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.

Of course everyone knows Sylvia’s poem is addressed to the child in her womb: “You are”-this, this . All in two stanzas of nine lines each.Nine refers to nine months of her pregnancy .The first stanza probably narrates the first phase of the fetal development and the second one relates to the next phase.

The plethora of metaphors do not connect within themselves but only expand the narrative giving it a visual feel. They are no extended metaphors but a series of metaphors all supplementing each other. Thus in the first nine lines ,the fetus is described in its likeness to a clown, a fish,a thumbsdown , a dodo ,a spool,a trawler,an owl,a turnip,a loaf.

Clown : A clown uses body language to elicit laughs.
Fish : The fetus floats in the embryonic fluid
Thumbsdown : The fetus appears in a hunched up position
On dodo’s mode : Dodos are supposed to be clumsy looking birds.
like a spool : The fetus is all tied up in the umbilical cord
Owl : Trawling darkness of the womb like an owl in the night
Trawling : A fishing metaphor to describe negotiating darkness
Mute as turnip : Fetus is conceived and grows from July to April
My little loaf : Delicious as a loaf and shaped like one.

In the second nine lines, the metaphors become more dynamic almost reflecting the growth of the fetus to the definite shape of a full-grown child. It now looks like a bent-back Atlas with an entire world on its shoulders.It is now vague as fog and looked for like mail. Farther than Australia. A travelled prawn,no longer a mute turnip. But snug as a bud waiting for a morning of blooming. Snug arises from a feeling of comfort within the womb.But it is now like a sprat(again a fish) in a pickle jar. A creel of eeels jumping about. Throwing around ripples. Jumpy like a Mexican bean, that jumps on frying. But it is now right, like an arithmetic sum whose answer comes right. Everything has worked out fine and the fetus is healthily kicking about against the walls of the womb. A clean slate , the baby has now a face of its own, apart from the mother’s. Clean slate because it is starting out in the world afresh with no history. The face has now a distinct formation of a persona.Now no longer moon-skulled with feet to the stars . A new actor on the world’s stage .

I love “moon-skulled ” to suggest a still forming mass of head, that will grow to a distinct face, a face of a new persona. I love “the feet to the stars” suggesting a head down and the feet up , the typical fetal position in the first few months. Gilled like a fish because being in aqua the embryo has to wear its lungs outside like fish. Everthing is fish till it comes out wearing a face to the world.

I love “trawling your dark” a fishing metaphor used to describe the fetus coping to exist in the darkest depths of the womb. The fourth of July is America’s independence but it is only on the All Fools day the baby will become independent,( nine months later) .That works a right arithmetic for a clown to appear with a face of his own.

“Warning”-A poem by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I love this poem not for the beauty of its imagery or the music of its singsong lines, that have a strange lyrical beauty. The young woman imagines herself in a situation she will find herself in decades later.In imagining herself as an old woman she gives herself all the attributes one associates with an old woman,in common perception. But not out of self-pity but from a sheer sense of release, freedom from what a young person is supposed to be.

Conformance to a social type is tyranny of the hive mind .A young person experiences its oppressiveness throughout the younger years and it is only the old age that gives them freedom to express and be their own selves the way they want to,not like how the peers look and behave.

1) When you are old you do not need to wear clothes that make a statement.Nor do you have to wear outlandish clothes because everybody else wears them and together you all make a statement.

2)When you are old you need not have to carry the stigma of not paying rent ,of wearing shabby clothes,of setting examples to children etc. You do not even invite friends to dinner and read the papers.

3) The biggest adavantage is that you can squat on the footpath if you are tired, go out in slippers in rain, spit anywhere to to your heart’s content.

4) You can buy brandy and eat sausages , exhausting your meager pension, and with the least worry about getting fat.

The old woman has little stake in life and it does not really matter to her what everybody thinks of her.But remember this is how the young person imagines what an old woman’s life would be like. Is it correct to think that an old person feels she has no further stake in life? That it does not really matter how she behaves and whether she is a subject of ridicule?

But that is not what the poet seems to say but rather that you feel stifled to be a young person with all those stereotyping that goes with it. A young person who thinks she has a greater stake in life is forced to conform to the stereotype, the shackles of which leave nothing for individual improvisation. You have to be either a conformist with all its boring traits or are a rebel with equally mind-numbing protocols.

All this is preparation to old age, that is a long way off. Does old age come so suddenly and one starts wearing purple? Surely , for the sake of other people, one has to practise a little at being old right now so that they will not be shocked to see her suddenly in purple clothes.She has the tongue in her cheek.Dont they start wearing purple too?

If music be the food of love

“If music be the food of love, play on.
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken and so die.
That strain again! It had a dying fall.
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor. Enough; no more.
’Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou,
That, notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, naught enters there,
Of what validity and pitch soe’er,
But falls into abatement and low price
Even in a minute. So full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.”

-Twelfth Night : William Shakespeare

The opening lines of the play contain some of the finest imagery used by Shakespeare. But the imagery is used merely to construct hyperbole intended to make fun of a romance pursued by Orsino for its own sake. Here is an entire drama of Elizabethan romance with all its trappings ,notably music. Music may be the food of love. Love does not happen by itself but is nurtured carefully by its staple food of music , by creating an ambiance for such romance to flourish. Love needs the food of music and so music should be played on to its excess. But music should not become the central passion but merely be played to an excess so that it quickly sickens and dies.

Apparently Orsino is not a music afficionado. If played continuously it becomes a surfeit and sickens to its death. Music is but a tool for romance and should not be allowed to become the leitmotif of the story. Orsino is merely building up his romance and has to follow the prevailing conventions for it . That strain again! Thank God, it has a dying fall. And beautiful like the sweet sound that breaths upon a bank of violets, stealing and giving odor. Music is but a soft sound breathing on a bank of violets, desired not for the melody of such a sound but for the odor it gives to and takes from the violets. Love is what the Duke pursues, the fragrance of a romance, the giving and the taking.

Orsino now gets into love proper.He addresses the spirit of love , quick and fresh ,that receiveth like the sea ,notwithstanding the joiner’s capacity. Nothing enters there without losing its form and shape. Like the sea that goes on ,irrespective of the countless streams and rivers that enter it,losing their shapes and their price.

“so full of shapes is fancy/that it alone is high fantastical” -Love receives within itself so many forms and is itself a fancy that is so high fantastical. Orsino’s love is mere fancy with no solid base and he is himself not sure about it. That is why he needs props like music.

If music be the food of love play on. If. But not too long .. Just that much which makes you sick of it and you go on to other things. Just the thing for a love novice .

(also found on the Shakespeare page)

“Siren Song”- By Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Most of the metaphors used here have a certain tongue-in-cheek quality as if they are used to merely laugh at the subject, the poem’s theme and in the manner of presenting it- a sort of the poet enjoying herself. The sirens are Greek mythological allusions, deliberately introduced to get a laugh about the so called feminine power derived from attractive helplessness. The allure the sirens have for the sailors is derived from their song everyone would like to learn that is so irresistible but the song is not heard by anybody because everybody who has heard it is dead and if anybody alive has heard it he does not remember it. Which means we have no verifiable evidence of the existence of such a song.

May be the song never existed or the sirens. it is the same song that made sailors fling themselves overboard in droves(squadrons) in pursuit of the sirens , while fully aware of the beached skulls that were the earlier sailors who attempted a similar misadventure. Such is the fatal charm of the three sirens whose song pulls the wary sailors to the islands only to turn them into beached skulls.

“beached skulls” is erstwhile sailors drowned in the sea pulled by the sirens song and have landed on the beach. But was the song so captivating that men died by it? Actually, that is not true, between the two of us, says one of the sirens.It is just a cry for help.It does not the exemplify the power of female charms or the melody of its song . And the song is such a boring one! Somehow it seems to work all the time.

But female charms do endure.They make you feel you are unique and only the one who can deliver the sirens from their situation.The damsels in distress do need valiant souls to come to their rescue.

The whole situation of the sirens is not all that picturesque as we may imagine. The three sirens have to squat in the islands, far from the picture of an idyllic situation. They “squat” between them , the three feathery creatures singing their boring song .In addition, they have to wear that stupid bird costume all the time. All for the pleasure of looking picturesque and mythical.

The poet makes fun of the traditional female allure that is supposed to exercise power over the male by fatal attraction. It takes a lot of effort to keep up the myth of female power over men.In the whole process she debunks the archtype of female desirability cultivated from apparent helplessness.

“The Brook” by Alfred Lord Tennyson

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

* * *

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

* * *

And here and there a foamy lake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

Apart from the delightful simpilcity of this nature poem by Tennyson,we may look at the sensory images he creates about the brook’s journey notably the auditory and visual ones.

I make a sudden sally
and sparkle out among the fern
to bicker down a valley

The start of the brook’s journey is described in just three lines, so full of detail compressed in sixteen words. The detail is amazing:

A sudden sally : The brook starts at the haunt of the coot and hern.Just picture a calm starting point with coots and herns flying about in peace. Suddenly the brook starts its sally , a military metaphor for an attack by the defenders of a town under seige. The brook starts flowing among the fern sparkling in the sun against their green .And then it bickers down a valley, continuing its aggression. To bicker is to quarrel loudly.To bicker down a valley suggests an abrupt noisy fall. Repeat “s” in suden sally/sparkle out” suggest softness of flow followed by abrupt “down a valley”.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

The numbers thirty, twenty, half a hundred are meant to convey the enormous speed the brook picks up as it passes the hills, thorps, ridges,a town, half a hundred bridges.

The brook is personified with two human attributes :running and babbling. The running is a continuous activity that goes on ,now fast on the ridges and now slow in the plains.The running never stops unlike of men who come and go:

…men may come ,men may go
But I go on for ever

Men come only to go but not the brook that goes on for ever.Its chatter in the woods will never stop.It goes on for ever.

The simple musical lines in monosyllables are so much like the babble of a brook

Men may come/ men may go
But I go on /for ever

Men merely come and they go. But the brook goes on and on.

The poet achieves a rare kind of musical density in each stanza by repetition of a single sound ;

“b” in

I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles
“y” in

And here and there a foamy lake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

“f” in

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow

And “ow” in


Of course,the dominant sense employed is the auditory one:

bubble , babble, chatter ,bicker, fret.

The Waste Land By T.S.Eliot

April is the cruellest 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,
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.

In these opening lines of Eliot’s The Waste Land we may look at the way time and space are interwoven,both within themselves as well as between individual chunks of time and space :

First let us talk of time:

April , spring,winter, summer,hour, when,night,winter


Dead land,roots,earth,Starnbergersee,colonnade,Hofgarten,the arch-duke’s,down,in the mountains

Time and space fused together:

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

Shorter time fused with longer time:
I read much of the night(shorter time)
Go south in the winter (longer time)
Space fused with time:
I read much of the time( A temporal frame :much of the night)
Go south in the winter (A spatial frame : Go south )

Conjunction between short term activity and long term activity, without an apparent logical connection:

I read much of the time and go south in the winter

The linkage between the first and the second is neither one of chronology nor of cause-and -effect.

A similar linkage will be found later in the poem about Madam Sosostris

“Madam Sosostris had a bad cold
Nevertheless is known to be the wisest woman in Europe”
(non sequitor)

Summer surprised us coming over the Starnbergersee/with a shower of rain

The music of the line is in a soft repetition of the “s” sound as if it is enacting the rain
falling on the lake Starnbergersee.

The summer is not the summer of every year but a summer that surprises with a shower of rain. Actually summer is coming over the Starnbergersee,not a harsh dry summer on the lake but a soft out-of-the season rainfall that stirs dull roots.

April is the cruellest month,linked to a spatial framework of dead land (space)
The cruelty is in the mixture of memory and desire, sparked off by the lilacs bursting from the dead land.
Spring stirs dull roots (spatial ): spring is dynamic,roots are static.Spring stirs them to motion.
Winter kept us warm, covering earth(space) in forgetful snow.Winter keeping us warm is paradoxical .But winter(time) covers our earth (space) in forgetful snow, making us forget our condition.Note the lazy roots springing to motion in April but now the dried tubers are fed a little life by winter’s snow.

And when we were children (longer time frame)
staying at the arch-duke’s (medium time frame)
he took me out on a sled (narrative- short time frame)
and I was frightened (narrative-recall of feeling)
he said,Mary, Mary,hold on tight (Direct speech-narrative)
and down we went (onomatopoeic ,speech with gesture)
In the mountains there you feel free (universalization of personal experience)
I read much of the night/ Juxtaposing the present with the past
go south in the winter .

The other interesting things are the music of the words and a fine lyricism achieved by clever use of syntax:

In the mountains ( universal for the mountains in general )
there you feel free (particularizing the location :there)

I read much of the night and go south in the winter :The verbs “read” and “go” are balanced to convey that they are sequential activities, which they are not.

The music of words : Mary, Mary, hold on tight /And down we went.