Okay, so I did talk about The Waste Land in a blog post during my summer semester. I almost decided not to write about it again, feeling almost as if that was cheating. But then I thought well, we didn’t also discuss Ezra Pound last semester, and decided to do it anyway.
T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound are intimately linked as poets, not surprising considering Pound greatly edited (as we can see in the image above) and influenced The Waste Land, and is who Eliot dedicated the poem to, calling Pound the “better craftsman” (something we are not here to debate, but I personally take issue with). Other than that, there are also links in their poetic styles, as we can see if comparing The Waste Land and Pound’s Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, which share some certain similar aspects. Both were published post-World War I, and deal with the aftermath. They also share some themes. Both poems question the fragmented modern world, a much-changed place after the War, and look to the ancient past as a source of inspiration. Pound questions in his poem whether or not we should look to the past, aspire to it, instead of continuing rapidly along the path of change and development. Eliot looks to the past in what can be seen as an attempt to find sense in the world, after the horrors of war. Both seem to honestly prefer the past, particularly that of ancient Greece. But they also both know that there is no going back. There is only moving forward, and possibly outward. Pound comes to the conclusion that even the past had its problems, and that neither is better than the other, though no particular solutions seem to be offered. Eliot ends his poem with a quite long reference to Buddhism, perhaps suggesting that the modern Western world needs to look outwardly for answers, instead of within.
Both Eliot and Pound were writing in a drastically changing world and trying to find any sense or meaning where they could. They come to different conclusions, but both are trying to answer the question of: where do we go from here?