Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Waste Land

So I read that while Eliot was working on The Waste Land, he had a "nervous breakdown" and took a leave of absence from his job at a bank. He then took three months in which he primarily worked on The Waste Land. Later he showed an early version of his poem to Ezra Pound and they worked together to cut the poem almost in half. The first lines of the poem didn't originally begin the poem and instead started on the second page of The Waste Land. Eliot is definitely different than all the other poets we've read and his complex lines make him an extremely difficult author to understand. His work is truly interesting.

6 comments:

christine said...

I did some digging online and found a version of The Wasteland that includes the annotations of Ezra Pound.

http://www.amazon.com/Waste-Land-Facsimile-Transcript-Annotations/dp/0156948702

If you click "click to look inside" on the left, you can see some of Pound's notes. It's very interesting to see how the poem was edited.

alyb said...

Wow Eliot did a lot of work on this poem. This truly impresses me because I could never imagine working this long on one poem. I think it takes someone that is really passionate about poetry to write like this. Most authors seem to take a lot of time writing their masterpieces.

sara pendleton said...

yeah belive it or not this is how most long poems look during editing. There's this quote by an author I can't remember who says something like 'I'm a terrible writer but I'm a brilliant editor.' It's kind of true, especially with poetry - the only writer I know who ever published lightly edited (swears he barely edited things but who knows...) was Jack Keroauc who actully wrote his most famous novel on a single roll of papers taped together while on a 2week benzedrine fueled writing bent. Thats not at all the norm - I don't want to say editing's the most important part of writing but in a way it's true.
Anyway it depends person-to-person, poem-to-poem, but you rarely find people with only a couple of drafts. With longer poems, I'd think that generally there's more editing to do because there's more material to work with.

sara pendleton said...

How awesome would it be if Ezra Pound was your editor? (I feel like it'd be like picasso or somebody like that critiquing your artwork) boggles the mind

ParkerC said...

This is very interested Ravin. Seems like every good poet is crazy and has mental issues, Baudelaire was kind of weird. ALso all the main romantic poets died crazy deaths at a young age. Maybe Eliot really had a tough time writing the waste land

mere said...

This makes me think of Heath Ledger... Didn't he start to go a little crazy when portraying the Joker? I think that often artists that are dealing with very dark or hopeless subject matter can become depressed etc. Eliot is working with a piece almost entirely built on the basis of ennui, so I can only imagine how mundane he probably found his life to be at the time.