“Two and two, necessarye coniunction”: Toward Amalgamating the Disparate

  • G. Douglas Atkins


The issue in The Waste Land is vision—and understanding. Binaries populate the poem, and voices are many, and disparate. As a satire, the poem offers a negative or antithetical focus, specifically the wastelanders’ many incapacities and misunderstandings, separated as they are from the wellsprings of intellectual and spiritual sustenance. The famous pub scene in the second section highlights the problem, as it literalizes a central metaphor: life is aborted. The poem’s principal speaker, most prominent in the final part, participates in the widespread misunderstanding, craving water (despite the previous section, “Death by Water”). The poem actually suggests a different “approach” from that of the satirized speaker’s, bringing into serious question the desire merely to “shore” “fragments against [Bone’s] ruins” and to seek the peace that passeth understanding.


Canterbury Tale Bird Singing Widespread Misunderstanding North American Literature Repeated Phrasing 
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  1. 1.
    T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    T.S. Eliot, Prufrock and Other Observations (London: Egoist Press, 1917).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    T.S. Eliot, Ash-Wednesday: Six Poems (London: Faber and Faber, 1930).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1943).Google Scholar

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© G. Douglas Atkins 2013

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  • G. Douglas Atkins

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