Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 2 February 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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A Critical Study of The Wasteland - Poetry as Metaphor

K. R. Vijaya, M. A., M.Phil.


This M.Phil. dissertation presents a critical study of The Wasteland and presents the argument that poetry in itself becomes a metaphor in the hands of T.S. Eliot.

Archibald Macleish in "Ars Poetica" defines the nature of a poem in the immortal lines , "A poem should not mean but be". The things that are most interesting and are most worth having are impossible to define and this is the best definition we can have of poetry. Other definitions such as 'Poetry being musical thought' or 'the best words in the best order' or 'the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling and emotion recollected in tranquility' seem to be partial or incomplete in their import, incapable of accounting for all these strata of meaning structured into the poem.

Aristotle defined poetry as an art of imitation, representing, counterfeiting or figuring forth, to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture with this end to teach and delight. It is absolutely true. A poet is an imitator of the world around him, recording his emotions and feelings to be transferred to the readers. But that is not an easy task.

The poet strives and struggles for the right word. Even T.S. Eliot himself speaks about the intolerable struggle in writing poetry; ' the Intolerable wrestle with words and meanings'.

The existing language is not enough for the poet. The form of poetry is more obvious than the form of prose as the former is the most primitive. The earliest poetry was social in purpose; the incantation, the rite, the ballad associated with ritual dance and feasting. It has more physical form than any kind of literature. In it is revealed the closest possible union of music and meaning of thought and image, imagination and intuition. So the man who tries his hand at poetry is in need of words, not connotative but also evocative and emotive. In addition to their meaning, the words call up or evoke before the mind's eye, a host of associations, connected with them and are also rich in emotional significance. For example, the word 'lily' merely connotates a 'flower', but it evokes images of beauty, innocence and purity. It also carries with it, the emotional overtone of pity, resulting from suffering.

Semiotics goes deep and distinguishes between paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations in the language.

De Sassure defines, "The paradigmatic relations are those into which a linguistic unit enters through being contrasted or substitutable in a particular environment with other similar units. The syntagmatic relations are those that a unit contracts by virtue of its co-occurrence with similar units. In a red door and a green door, red and green doors are in paradigmatic relation to each other, while each is in a syntagmatic relation with the door." 3 In such a complex web of language, the poet is expected to deliver his emotive content to the readers. As Wheelwright says, the poet is an interiority craving for entry into another interiority. So the poet is forced to seek the help of symbols, images, similes and metaphors in order to express much more than the ordinary words. When viewed more closely, the inner meaning of poetry is conveyed only through imagery. If we can understand the imagery of the poem, we can say that we have experienced a poem in its entirety.

T.S. Eliot himself says, "The poem is a series of images of migration……… and obscurity of the poem, on first reading is due to the suppression of 'links in the chain' of explanatory and connecting matter and not due to incoherence or to the love of cryptogram…….. The reader has to allow the images to fall into his memory successively without questioning the reasonableness of each at the moment; so that, at the end, a total effect is produced".

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Compounds in Tolkappiyam and Balavyakaranam - A Comparison | Automatic Nominal Morphological Recognizer and Analyzer for Sanskrit: Method and Implementation | A Critical Study of The Wasteland - Poetry as Metaphor | Communicative Language Teaching - An Overview | Cinema and the New Media | Culture and Second Language Learning and Teaching - An Exploration in Tamil | R. K. Narayan's Humour in Swami and Friends | Towards Meeting Global Challenge - Cyber Based Instruction in Foreign Language Teaching | Novel Technologies, Engines and Mobiles in Language Learning | Role of Language in Effective Managerial Communication | Pragmatic Analysis of Politeness Theory | The Varied Horizon of Multimedia & Web Tools for English Language Acquisition in the Information Age | Challenges and Problems in the Teaching of Grammar | Some Features of Tirukkural Telugu Translations | Issues of Social and Ideological Empowerment in Contemporary Indian Women Writing in English | Does Stress-Shift Lead to Word-Class Conversion in English? | Insight through Body Language and Non-verbal Communication References in Tirukkural | Think-Aloud Protocol -- Elicitation of Strategy Use and Solution to Learning Problem | Voice of the Voiceless: Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape and George Ryga's Indian - A Comparative Study | Inside the Haveli: A Study | HOME PAGE of February 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

K. R. Vijaya, M.A., M.Phil.
Department of English
Rajalakshmi Engineering College
Chennai 602 105
Tamilnadu, India

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