Towards the end of The Waste Land, the poetic voice says: ‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins’ (Eliot, The Waste Land, p. 140). Discuss this assertion in relation to the entire poem.
In this part of the presentation I will be looking at Eliot’s fragmented form which produces a chaotic effect, and then discuss how the voice of the speaker who says ‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins’ might bring the poem together to form an order and a platform for the blend of images, languages and allusions and quotations to stand on. In other words the multitude of different voices which appear throughout the poem could be framed by the underlying and ancient story of the Fisher King which Eliot read about in Jessie Weston’s From Ritual to Romance could A first reading of the line ‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins’ might make reference to the broken style of the poem. The Waste Land is a collection of allusions reassembled to create the poem. The form of the poem seems disjointed but Eliot was writing during a time of a broken culture. The war of 1914-1918 had created an employment bill, but this ended with the war leaving two million people unemployed in England. This came after the death of ten million people who had died in the war; and London and the countryside was ruined by war bombings. The countryside which had been the source of inspiration for artists, poets, musicians and writers was now in ruins; it was quite literally a waste land. Dr. Nicolas Mount of Toronto University compared this form to that of reassembled stain glass windows which were ruined in the war, and then rebuilt and displayed again in a new design. Mount said, “it’s bits of culture broken up by war and reassembled into a new frame.” He continued this analogy by saying that when the stain glass windows were new, they looked out as a distinct image. They told a single accessible story: a depiction of a saint, or a representation of the crucifixion of Christ....
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