'What branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish?' Nature has been destroyed, is there any hope for the future etc.
I can connect / Nothing with nothing Lack of understanding or communication between the veterans and the survivors
crowds of people walking round in a ring Link to Dante's 'Inferno', it suggests that the survivors are in a kind of living hell (it's a reference to Dante's concentric circles of hell). It's quite a good quote to compare to Owen's 'Strange Meeting'.
I had not thought death had undone so many. Here, Eliot suggests that in the aftermath of the war, everything and everyone living is spiritually dead and, again, in a living hell.
What shall we ever do? Hopelessness
If you don't give it him there's others will. Surplus of women at the end of the war - link to Vera Brittain's 'The Superfluous Woman'. You can also take it as a condemnation of how the war has even corrupted women, who pre-war were supposedly virtuous and chaste - a good link is to Edmund Blunden's 'Report on Experience', when he says I heard her lyric warp / I saw her smile deaden / She turned to harlotry / This I took to be new.
HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME Yes, it's meant to be in capitals This is repeated several times in the second canto, giving a sense of desperacy as people had a new understanding of the fragility of life and their own mortality. Time is running out for this generation.
'A heap of broken images' Lost dreams, shattered illusions
You who were with me in the ships at Mylae! / That corpse you planted last year in your garden / Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? The reference to Mylae I think is meant to portray WW1 as a symbol for all wars, as Mylae was a famous battle in classical history (but you might want to check that, as I'm not completely sure). The corpse in the garden is reminiscent of the bodies buried in the mud of the trenches, and the idea that it will 'sprout' is symbolic of a fear that the past will return to haunt them or will recur. You can also use it as an example of shell-shock, in which case you can link it to Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway' and the character of Septimus Smith: And now the dead, now Evans himself... "For God's sake, don't come!" Septimus cried out, for he could not look upon the dead.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear / The rattle of bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear. This pastiches Marvell's poem 'To His Coy Mistress' to give a sense of impending doom through the battlefield images of 'bones'. It also suggests the deranged mental state of the soldiers after WW1.
You! hypocrite lecteur! - mon semblable, - mon frere! The use of French suggests that all nations are alike in their grief.
These notes are aimed at A Level English students at A2 level.
Originally written by Ariadne on TSR Forums.