Old and New Ruins

In part 1 of “The Wasteland” there is a conflict between the old and new. The mythological intermingle with current events. In the first stanza, there is a reference to Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his cousin going sledding and enjoying coffee and conversation. There are references to the bible, tarot readings, and the ancient battle of Mylae. T.S. Eliot does this throughout the poem, adding to the fragmented and unnatural feeling to the poem.

When first reading the poem, I thought the red rock in stanza 2 was meant to be natural. Images of the Oklahoma panhandle’s red dirt came to mind as well as the Australian outback. Although these are very real places, they are likely not the intended imagery. Instead, I believe the red rock are actually rocks. It is from this brick ruin that the guiding spirits show’s the reader “fear in a handful of dust.” This supernatural figure comes from modernity and this intertwined relationship continues throughout the poem. We are left in limbo between life and death, old and new.


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