The Waste Land, Prufrock and Other Poems

The Waste Land, Prufrock and Other Poems

3.8 113
by T. S. Eliot

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In the masterly cadences of T. S. Eliot's verse, the 20th century found its definitive poetic voice, an incredible "image of its accelerated grimace," in the words of Eliot's friend and mentor, Erza Pound. This volume is a rich collection of much of Eliot's greatest work.
The title poem, The Waste Land (1922), ranks among the most influential poetic works


In the masterly cadences of T. S. Eliot's verse, the 20th century found its definitive poetic voice, an incredible "image of its accelerated grimace," in the words of Eliot's friend and mentor, Erza Pound. This volume is a rich collection of much of Eliot's greatest work.
The title poem, The Waste Land (1922), ranks among the most influential poetic works of the century. An exploration of the psychic stages of a despairing soul caught in a struggle for redemption, the poem contrasts the spiritual stagnation of the modern world with the ennobling myths of the past. Other selections include the complete contents of Prufrock (1971), including "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," "Portrait of a Lady," "Rhapsody on a Windy Night," "Mr. Apollinax," and "Morning at the Window." From Poems (1920) there are "Gerontion," "The Hippopotamus," "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service," "Sweeney Among the Nightingales," and more.
An indispensable resource for all poetry lovers, this modestly priced edition is also an ideal text for English literature courses from high school to college. Includes "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" from the Common Core.

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The Waste Land, Prufrock and Other Poems

By T. S. Eliot

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1998 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11321-0


PRUFROCK and Other Observations 1917

To Jean Verdenal, 1889—1915

    The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
    A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
    Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
    Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
    Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
    Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

    Let us go then, you and I,
    When the evening is spread out against the sky
    Like a patient etherised upon a table;
    Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
    The muttering retreats
    Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
    And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
    Streets that follow like a tedious argument
    Of insidious intent
    To lead you to an overwhelming question....
    Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
    Let us go and make our visit.

     In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.

     The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
    The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
    Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
    Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
    Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
    Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
    And seeing that it was a soft October night,
    Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

     And indeed there will be time
    For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
    Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
    There will be time, there will be time
    To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
    There will be time to murder and create,
    And time for all the works and days of hands
    That lift and drop a question on your plate;
    Time for you and time for me,
    And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
    And for a hundred visions and revisions,
    Before the taking of a toast and tea.

     In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.

     And indeed there will be time
    To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
    Time to turn back and descend the stair,
    With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
    (They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")
    My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
    My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
    (They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
    Do I dare
    Disturb the universe?
    In a minute there is time
    For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

     For I have known them all already, known them all:
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.

     So how should I presume?

     And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
    The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
    And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
    When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
    Then how should I begin
    To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

     And how should I presume?

     And I have known the arms already, known them all—
    Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
    (But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
    Is it perfume from a dress
    That makes me so digress?
    Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

     And should I then presume?

     And how should I begin?

* * *

     Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
    And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
    Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...

     I should have been a pair of ragged claws
    Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

* * *

     And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
    Smoothed by long fingers,
    Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
    Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
    Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
    Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
    But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
    Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a
    I am no prophet—and here's no great matter;
    I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
    And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
    And in short, I was afraid.

     And would it have been worth it, after all,
    After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
    Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
    Would it have been worth while,
    To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
    To have squeezed the universe into a ball
    To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
    To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
    Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"—
    If one, settling a pillow by her head,

     Should say: "That is not what I meant at all;

     That is not it, at all."

     And would it have been worth it, after all,
    Would it have been worth while,
    After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
    After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the
    And this, and so much more?—
    It is impossible to say just what I mean!
    But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
    Would it have been worth while
    If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
    And turning toward the window, should say:

     "That is not it at all,

     That is not what I meant, at all."

* * *

    No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
    Am an attendant lord, one that will do
    To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
    Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
    Deferential, glad to be of use,
    Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
    At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
    Almost, at times, the Fool.

     I grow old ... I grow old ...
    I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

     Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
    I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

     I do not think that they will sing to me.

     I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
    Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
    When the wind blows the water white and black.

     We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
    By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
    Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

    Portrait of a Lady

    Thou hast committed—
    Fornication: but that was in another country,
    And besides, the wench is dead.

    The Jew of Malta.


    Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon
    You have the scene arrange itself—as it will seem to do—
    With "I have saved this afternoon for you";
    And four wax candles in the darkened room,
    Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead,
    An atmosphere of Juliet's tomb
    Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid.
    We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole
    Transmit the Preludes, through his hair and fingertips.
    "So intimate, this Chopin, that I think his soul
    Should be resurrected only among friends
    Some two or three, who will not touch the bloom
    That is rubbed and questioned in the concert room."
    —And so the conversation slips
    Among velleities and carefully caught regrets
    Through attenuated tones of violins
    Mingled with remote cornets

    And begins.
    "You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends,
    And how, how rare and strange it is, to find
    In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends,
    (For indeed I do not love it ... you knew? you are not blind!
    How keen you are!)
    To find a friend who has these qualities,
    Who has, and gives
    Those qualities upon which friendship lives.
    How much it means that I say this to you—
    Without these friendships—life, what cauchemar!"

    Among the windings of the violins
    And the ariettes
    Of cracked cornets
    Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins
    Absurdly hammering a prelude of its own,
    Capricious monotone
    That is at least one definite "false note."
    —Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance,
    Admire the monuments,
    Discuss the late events,
    Correct our watches by the public clocks.
    Then sit for half an hour and drink our bocks.


    Now that lilacs are in bloom
    She has a bowl of lilacs in her room
    And twists one in her fingers while she talks.
    "Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know
    What life is, you who hold it in your hands";
    (Slowly twisting the lilac stalks)
    "You let it flow from you, you let it flow,
    And youth is cruel, and has no remorse
    And smiles at situations which it cannot see."
    I smile, of course,
    And go on drinking tea.
    "Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall
    My buried life, and Paris in the Spring,
    I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world
    To be wonderful and youthful, after all."

     The voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune
    Of a broken violin on an August afternoon:
    "I am always sure that you understand
    My feelings, always sure that you feel,
    Sure that across the gulf you reach your hand.

     You are invulnerable, you have no Achilles' heel.
    You will go on, and when you have prevailed
    You can say: at this point many a one has failed.
    But what have I, but what have I, my friend,
    To give you, what can you receive from me?
    Only the friendship and the sympathy
    Of one about to reach her journey's end.

     I shall sit here, serving tea to friends...."

     I take my hat: how can I make a cowardly amends
    For what she has said to me?
    You will see me any morning in the park
    Reading the comics and the sporting page.
    Particularly I remark
    An English countess goes upon the stage.
    A Greek was murdered at a Polish dance,
    Another bank defaulter has confessed.
    I keep my countenance,
    I remain self-possessed
    Except when a street piano, mechanical and tired
    Reiterates some worn-out common song
    With the smell of hyacinths across the garden
    Recalling things that other people have desired.
    Are these ideas right or wrong?


    The October night comes down; returning as before
    Except for a slight sensation of being ill at ease
    I mount the stairs and turn the handle of the door
    And feel as if I had mounted on my hands and knees.
    "And so you are going abroad; and when do you return?
    But that's a useless question.
    You hardly know when you are coming back,
    You will find so much to learn."
    My smile falls heavily among the bric-à-brac.

     "Perhaps you can write to me."
    My self-possession flares up for a second;
    This is as I had reckoned.
    "I have been wondering frequently of late
    (But our beginnings never know our ends!)
    Why we have not developed into friends."
    I feel like one who smiles, and turning shall remark
    Suddenly, his expression in a glass.
    My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark.

     "For everybody said so, all our friends,
    They all were sure our feelings would relate
    So closely! I myself can hardly understand.
    We must leave it now to fate.
    You will write, at any rate.
    Perhaps it is not too late.
    I shall sit here, serving tea to friends."

     And I must borrow every changing shape
    To find expression ... dance, dance
    Like a dancing bear,
    Cry like a parrot, chatter like an ape.
    Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance—

     Well! and what if she should die some afternoon,
    Afternoon grey and smoky, evening yellow and rose;
    Should die and leave me sitting pen in hand
    With the smoke coming down above the housetops;
    Doubtful, for quite a while
    Not knowing what to feel or if I understand
    Or whether wise or foolish, tardy or too soon ...
    Would she not have the advantage, after all?
    This music is successful with a "dying fall"
    Now that we talk of dying—
    And should I have the right to smile?



    The winter evening settles down
    With smell of steaks in passageways.
    Six o'clock.
    The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
    And now a gusty shower wraps
    The grimy scraps
    Of withered leaves about your feet
    And newspapers from vacant lots;
    The showers beat
    On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
    And at the corner of the street
    A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
    And then the lighting of the lamps.


    The morning comes to consciousness
    Of faint stale smells of beer
    From the sawdust-trampled street
    With all its muddy feet that press
    To early coffee-stands.

    With the other masquerades
    That time resumes,
    One thinks of all the hands
    That are raising dingy shades
    In a thousand furnished rooms.


    You tossed a blanket from the bed,
    You lay upon your back, and waited;
    You dozed, and watched the night revealing
    The thousand sordid images
    Of which your soul was constituted;
    They flickered against the ceiling.
    And when all the world came back
    And the light crept up between the shutters
    And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
    You had such a vision of the street
    As the street hardly understands;
    Sitting along the bed's edge, where
    You curled the papers from your hair,
    Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
    In the palms of both soiled hands.


    His soul stretched tight across the skies
    That fade behind a city block,
    Or trampled by insistent feet
    At four and five and six o'clock;
    And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
    And evening newspapers, and eyes
    Assured of certain certainties,
    The conscience of a blackened street
    Impatient to assume the world.

     I am moved by fancies that are curled
    Around these images, and cling:
    The notion of some infinitely gentle
    Infinitely suffering thing.

     Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
    The worlds revolve like ancient women
    Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

    Rhapsody on a Windy Night

    Twelve o'clock.
    Along the reaches of the street
    Held in a lunar synthesis,
    Whispering lunar incantations
    Dissolve the floors of memory
    And all its clear relations,
    Its divisions and precisions,
    Every street lamp that I pass
    Beats like a fatalistic drum,
    And through the spaces of the dark

    Midnight shakes the memory
    As a madman shakes a dead geranium.

     Half-past one,
    The street-lamp sputtered,
    The street-lamp muttered,
    The street-lamp said, "Regard that woman
    Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
    Which opens on her like a grin.
    You see the border of her dress
    Is torn and stained with sand,
    And you see the corner of her eye
    Twists like a crooked pin."


Excerpted from The Waste Land, Prufrock and Other Poems by T. S. Eliot. Copyright © 1998 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Waste Land and Other Poems (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 113 reviews.
TheQuillPen More than 1 year ago
One of the smallest of the B&N Classics, The Waste Land and Other Poems nevertheless contains some of the best poetry of the 20th century and, quite frankly, of all time. Eliot's Ezra Pound-inspired style utterly enhances the cold, sterile, occasionally Kafkaesque mood of his early poetry, and this volume contains Eliot's preeminent early work: "Prufrock and Other Observations," "Poems 1920," and, of course, "The Waste Land," a masterpiece of modernist literature. Highly influential even today, Eliot's cynical description of a cold, harsh modern world raises pertinent philisophical questions about the human condition, as well as our world today. Eliot's penetrating observations are enhanced by his brusque and often aloof style of poetry, a style punctuated by significant pauses and characterized by short, fragmented lines, as well as varying rhyme scheme (when applicable) and diverse meter. This little book provides an excellent introduction to T.S. Eliot in general, but "The Waste Land" alone is worth your money. Absolutely influential and simply stunning--oh, and Eliot's vocabulary is masterful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS is poetry, and very little even approaching it has been written in the past several decades. Hard work, years of it, went into the writing, and luckily several good critics have written on Eliot's work and have explicated, amplifying the reader's experience. If you're looking for rawness, explicit sex, self-absorbed confessionals, random ambiguity and "It can mean one thing to you and something else to me, that's why it's so great," don't even open the book. Eliot wrote distilled thought in precisely appropriate words and language, and in rhythms in the text as deep as ground waves in the sea. Much of the material he uses or refers to in his work is no longer part of anyone's intellectual repertoire today, except academics'. But books about his poetry will fill in those blanks. The work is worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Agree formatting is bad...poems good...why side numbers---stupid!
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JFillingham More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Eliot, but I found the formatting of this book frustrating. I really wanted to have a collection of his works for my Nook, so I thought this would work. After getting it, I have found the formatting of the poems frustrating. I wish someone would fix this.
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