Modernism In The Wasteland

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Twentieth Century is also known as the modern era and in those times when everyone was moving towards progression leaving behind the past, T.S Eliot was obsessed with the past. Being a modernist himself, he revolted against the ideas of progression. This revolt and constant clinginess to history and the previous era is evident in his works. In this paper, we are looking at how Eliot projected time and history in his renowned poem “The Wasteland”.
Key Words: Modernism, Anti-Modernism, T.S Eliot, Wasteland, Time, History

“Time is the moving image of eternity - (Plato)”
In the beginning of twentieth century “Modernism” started as a movement/revolt against the past, it dreams of moving forward towards development. But T.S Eliot, belonging to
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The poem shows the effects of the First World War on the world, and how the only escape according to Eliot is ‘Death’. He uses many cultural references and jumps from one speaker to another, one location to another, and to different times- which helps scholars to declare it as an obscure poem. Eliot manages to juxtapose all the question with one major question i.e. the role of poetry in this empty and meaningless world, which hints towards reading this poem as an “Anti-Modernist…show more content…
He experimented with his writing skills and showed his readers both present and past in one poem, he glorified the past in contrast withthe corrupt present. Eliot plays with the concept of time and the stream of consciousness. Understanding the time structure of the poem is known to be the only key to understand the meaning of this poem. The complex movement from past to present is represented via allusions and references. The opening lines of the poem indicates that the poem is set in the month of ‘April’ and it is the present. But if we look at the epigraph of “The Wasteland”, we notice that time if shifting in a number of directions – the line “with my own eyes” suggest the physical presence of the speaker, but at the same time when he says he ‘saw the Sibyl’ puts him in the past. From this one can anticipate the directions of time shown i.e. we go from reader’s present world to the world of Eliot’s present; the from that we move to Petronius’s present; the at end to Sibyl’s present; and while moving from one’s present to another, the latter becomes the past. He is basically juxtaposing contemporary present with the mystic and religious past – this technique is used to show how past plays an active a part in the present, and this fusion of past and present results into a new creation which has its own significance.
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