Section one prepares the reader to experience the ebbs and flows of the life and death imagery present throughout the poem. Elliot does not seem to offer hope or solace in the aftermath of the war, just lesser degrees of bleakness. The life that is present is a hostile existence focused on physical survival; similarly, death offers no rest, peace, and finality because no one glorifies the deceased and their accomplishments. The list below highlights examples that occur in this section.
stanza 1- infertile spring
stanza 2- repeated use of shadows in various contexts
stanza 3- direct mention of meaningless existence alongside floral imagery (life)
“I was neither/ living nor dead, and I knew nothing” (ln 39-40).
stanza 4- death and destruction present in tarot cards
stanza 5- image of a corpse as plant fertilizer (death potentionally feeding life) and mention of high body count
“I had not thought death had undone so many” (ln 63).
On a side note, I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly Elliot weaves allusions into his own syntax throughout the poem.