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Default Lexico-thematic coherence in the wasteland

Lexico-thematic Coherence in the Waste Land


The general accusation against most of the post war literature
regarding its incoherent and fragmentary nature has been widely
accepted. Contrary to this allegation, I understand that despite
being sketchy or fractional at the outset, modern literature does
have internal unity. Without such an integrated organizational
pattern, no piece of literature can qualify the test of time. The same
applies to the Waste Land, a landmark in the 20th Century. Deeper
level analyses at the aesthetic and semantic levels highlight an
explicit coherent pattern in the poem. The specific lexical choice
within the five parts of the poem demonstrates thematic development
both at the individual parts and the entire poem as a whole. Thus,
one observes that the Waste Land is an organic body composed of
five disproportionate parts, all made up of the same lexico-thematic
constituents.
Introduction
The poem, The Waste Land is generally considered as an obscure poem, lacking
coherence and thematic unity. Many argue that the multiplicity of myths makes it a
cultural document rather than a well-organized poem. It abounds in literary, mythological,
anthropological and religious allusions, demonstrating the poet’s erudition. The poet
himself claims that The Waste Land is an epic in miniature, not dealing with a generation,
but with modern humanity. However, despite being one of the greatest poems of the
twentieth century, no concerted effort has been made so far to highlight the coherence
of the poem. I contend that a great piece of literature by a poet of Eliot’s stature, and
with such an ambitious claim for the poem, cannot be mere a conglomeration of references
and allusions without any coherent pattern or unity. Therefore, through this paper, an
effort has been made to spotlight the coherent pattern of the poem both aesthetically
and linguistically. First, the individual parts of the poem are briefly discussed and their
aesthetic coherence established. Then all the five parts are briefly evaluated and their
cross-sectional coherence at the aesthetic level highlighted. As a next step, the poem
is handled at the lexical level whereby lexical items having the highest frequency
occurrence are presented in alphabetical order, each one being followed by brief
comments. Finally, a broad-based coherent relationship of the aesthetic and lexical
levels is highlighted and conclusion drawn.
Aesthetic Coherence
If the five parts of the poem are observed closely, one will notice how each part
separately handles a theme, which is part of a broader theme. For instance, the first
part, “The Burial of the Dead”, deals with general characteristics of a Waste Land
through ‘ing’ participle, non-finite clauses, ‘breeding’, ‘mixing’, ‘stirring’, ‘covering’,
‘feeding’ and ‘coming’. This specific syntactic choice highlights that the poet is not
talking about a particular place or time; thus Eliot universalizes the notion of The Waste
Land through a conscious use of appropriate syntactic patterns. The readers only
know about possibilities of a generic wasteland in the first part.
The second part, “A Game of Chess”, presents the readers with a possibility of
the social set up of a generic wasteland through a game of chess. A chessboard
represents various hierarchical orders where the most important ones are the king and
the queen and the commonest ones, the pawns. Here, too, we have two broad social set
ups represented by the rich, neurotic woman, presented in a throne-like chair
The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,
Glowed on the marble
and, Lil, a lower class woman. The poem is about the wasteland where the two individuals
have problems of different nature. The poet suggests that every one in the wasteland
is in trouble which might be physical, psychological, or spiritual.
The third part, “The Fire Sermon”, implicitly refers to the major cause for turning
fertile land into a wasteland, which is the desire of the flesh. Buddha’s fire sermon
reveals that deliverance from sufferings is to be obtained through the suppression of
desires. Here, in the opening lines, a dilapidated river side is presented which is deserted
by the nymphs and their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors with no reference
to specific individuals.
The river’s tent is broken: the last finger of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land and, unheard. The nymphs are departed
This general account is then linked with a particular act of sexual violence through
Tereu and Philomela in a mythological perspective:
Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forced. Tereu
Then the poet focuses on two representatives of the lower middle class (the
typist woman and her lover) involved in sterile physical act. The readers also read
between the lines about the illicit relationship between Elizabeth and Leicester
representing the royalty and the three Thames daughters (or the Rhine daughters),
hinting at sexual waywardness in the religious domains. The concluding words of this
part, ‘burning’, burning’ metaphorically refer to the flames of the sensual fire which has
turned the entire land into waste. If the initial two parts of the poem give a general and
social account of the wasteland, the third part hints at the responsible factor for the
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Lexico-thematic Coherence in the Waste Land
deep rooted problem. Eliot also had the same view as he heavily relies on two main
sources, The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer and From Ritual to Romance by
Jessie Weston. Both the books deal with the fertility cult, and restoration and return of
life to the land.
The fourth part, “Death by Water”, highlights the overall futility of life. It also
suggests that water, which is the most important life giving source, is simultaneously
a life taking force. So this part primarily hints at the basic paradox of life, subsuming
every mortal being through the character of Phlebas, the Phoenician sailor. One also
deduces lesson about the overall futility of life.
The last part, “What the Thunder Said”, once again introduces the physical
characteristics of the Waste Land through a stark presentation of a parched land badly
in need of water
Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
…………………………………………
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
……………………….
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water
The excessive use of the lexical items related with wetness and dryness makes the
theme of drought even more severe. But the inherent problem of the land, which resulted
from the abuse of sex (primarily a life generating force), is to be resolved spiritually. The
three DA sounds, instead of being harbinger of actual rain, suggest ways how to
restore the fertility of the land.
Trans-sectional Aesthetic Coherence
The aesthetic canons of beauty and unity are operative in The Waste Land at
more than one level. At the aesthetic level, the main title of the poem, The Waste Land
functions as an umbrella term, where the five individual parts merge in the main title.
For instance, the first section, “The Burial of the Dead”, is considered a generic
introduction of The Waste Land, and the birth and death experience, both at the physical
and metaphorical levels. This generic aspect then subsumes the social aspect where
the social hierarchical patterns are offered through ‘A Game of Chess’, and manifested
through a neurotic, aristocratic woman, representing the top hierarchical order, and Lil,
a poor woman representing the lower class. Both the women have their own problems,
which implicitly suggest decadence of the wasteland, adversely affecting its inhabitants.
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Journal of Research (Faculty of Languages & Islamic Studies) 2003 Vol.4
The third part gradually unfolds through its title, ‘The Fire Sermon’, which suggests
that the major source of trouble in The Waste Land emanates from the abuse of sex. This
part, like the second one, but in a more elaborate manner, refers to a number of feminine
figures, ranging from lower (middle) class to the royalty, all indulged in illicit sexual
relationships, which ultimately results in ‘burning’, the last concluding word of this
part. The fourth part, ‘Death by Water’, refers to the basic paradox of The Waste Land.
If lack of water is the major cause of sterility and death, access of it, too, results in
death. An if death is the inevitable end in both fertile and sterile lands, then certain
steps need to be taken to make the end more meaningful. Therefore, the last part, ‘What
the Thunder Said’, through the sound of the thunder, suggests how to convert the
wasteland into fertile land, and how to make the inescapable end of life more meaningful.
The three ‘DA’ sounds having different meaning — Give, sympathise, control —offer
the ultimate remedial measure both at physical and spiritual level. Therefore, Eliot like
every great artist is confronted with a major problem, which he presents through the
interplay of different languages, songs, artistic devices, and ultimately ends up with a
subtle message thus, establishing the unity of the poem through the aesthetic level
both at the individual sections and inter-sectional levels. Therefore, the generalised
comments by various critics that the poem does not have any coherent order get
falsified. The poem also offers coherent pattern at the linguistic (lexical) level. The
following is a detail investigation in this direction.
Lexical coherence
At the linguistic levels, the most important lexical items throughout the poem are
taken in alphabetical order with references to their frequency of occurrence, and are
presented in table form at the end. If looked at carefully, almost every lexical item of the
core vocabulary is semantically in harmony with the main title of the poem, which
falsifies the general perception that The Waste Land is a disorganized and disjointed
poem.
The following is an extensive account of the lexical items and their frequency of
occurrence. These lexical items are followed by brief comments with their line(s) numbers
and part(s) of the poem mentioned.
Antique:
The word antique is used twice in the poem:
Above the antique mantel was displayed (l: 97, Part II)
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique (l: 156, Part II)
The first use suggests the poet’s belief in the past as a source of artistic value
and meaning through myth and artistic tradition. But the social set up where the term is
used presents an artificial and sensuous atmosphere that is alluring and disgusting
simultaneously. The noun phrase, ‘The antique mantel’, taken from Greek mythology
and work of art suggests beauty and meaningfulness, but the subject itself implies
horror of unrestrained sexuality.
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Lexico-thematic Coherence in the Waste Land
The second use has a debased meaning in the modern sense, occurring in the
context of the abuse of sex. The first, the ancient use, is linked with rape, and the
second one with Lil’s premature ageing, resulting from abortion. Thus a shadow of
permanent waste or sterility replaces voluntary sterility through abortion.
Bed: This word is used twice, and both its uses present negative pictures related
with death and sexuality respectively:
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? (l: 73, Part I)
On the divan are plied ( at night her bed) ( l: 226, Part III)
Bells: The word bell is used twice, the second is reminiscent of the first and both
are reminder of human destiny:
The peal of bells (l: 288, Part III)
tolling reminiscent bells (l: 384, Part V)
Body parts: Names of body parts are used extensively with the highest frequency
of occurrence, with a predominance of ‘the eye’ image:
your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
speak, and my eyes failed (ll: 38,39, Part I )
Those are pearls that were his eyes (l: 48, Part I)
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back (ll: 52-53 Part I)
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet (l: 65, Part I)
Another hid his eyes behind his wing (l: 81, Part II)
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head (ll: 125-26, Part II)
With my hair down, so (l: 133, Part II)
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door. (l: 138, Part II)
To get yourself some teeth. (l: 144, Part II)
I can’t help it, she said, pulling a long face (l: 158, Part II)
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear (l: 186, Part III)
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank (l: 188, Part III)
White bodies naked on the low damp ground (l: 193, Part III)
Rattled by the rat’s foot only, year to year. (l:195, Part III)
The wash their feet in soda water (l: 201, Part III)
At the violet hour, when the eyes and back (l: 215, Part III)
Old man with wrinkled female breast (l: 219, Part III)
Old man with wrinkled dugs (l: 228, Part III)
Exploring hands encounter no defence (l: 240, Part III)
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass (l: 251, Part III)
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand (l: 255, Part III)
By Richmond I raised my knees (l: 294, Part III)
My feet are at Moorgate,and my heart
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Journal of Research (Faculty of Languages & Islamic Studies) 2003 Vol.4
Under my feet. (ll: 296-97, Part III)
The broken fingernails of dirty hands (l: 303, Part III)
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand (l: 337, Part V)
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit (l: 339, Part V)
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl (l: 344, Part V)
A woman drew her long black hair out tight (l: 378, Part V)
And bats with baby faces in the violet light (l: 380, Part V)
My friend, blood shaking my heart (l: 403, Part V)
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded (l: 421, Part V)
If we look at all these examples, almost every part of the body being referred to is
either in a state of anguish, debasement, deterioration, or in physical or spiritual torture.
The eye ceases to serve the function of seeing the glorious manifestations of nature,
the ears only hear ‘rattle of the bones’, the head is empty, the finger nails are broken,
the belly is slimy, the faces are red and sullen, the breasts are wrinkled, the teeth are
carious, and so on. Therefore, these different parts of the body succinctly manifest a
state of utter physical desertion.
Bones: Bones symbolize death and this image is used in a number of places in
the poem, pervading through almost all the different parts:
Where the dead men lost their bones. (l: 117, Part II)
The rattle of the bones, and the chuckle spread from ear to ear. (l: 186, Part III)
And bones cast in low dry garret (l: 194, Part III)
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers (ll:315-16, Part IV)
Dry bones can harm no one. (l: 390, Part V)
Broken: The Waste Land depicts a picture of broken objects representing a state
of chaos and confusion. A few lexical items depicting such a topsy-turvy phenomenon
occur throughout some of the parts of the poem.
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats (l: 22, Part I)
The river ‘s tent is broken (l: 173, Part III)
The broken fingernails of dirty hands. (l: 303, Part III)
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor (l: 408, Part V)
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus (l: 416, Part V)
Colours: A whole spectrum of colours is used covering ‘black’, ‘brown’, ‘green’,
‘orange’, ‘red’, ‘violet’, and ‘white’. Colours representing a dilapidated state, sterility
or sexual provocation such as, ‘brown’, ‘red’ and ‘violet’ have a high frequency of
occurrence; whereas ‘black’, representing chaos and confusion has the second highest
frequency; ‘white’, a representative colour of purity and chastity, is used twice only,
and ‘green’, which symbolizes fertility and life is used only once in the entire poem:
There is shadow under this red rock
Come in under the shadow of this red rock (ll: 25,26, Part I)
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Lexico-thematic Coherence in the Waste Land
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, (l: 61, Part I)
Burned green and orange, framed by coloured stone (l: 95, Part II)
Crosses the brown land unheard. (l: 175, Part III)
Under the brown fog of a winter noon (l: 208, Part III)
At the violet hour when the eye and back (l: 215, Part III)
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives. (l: 220, Part III)
Red and gold (l: 283, Part III)
White towers (l: 289, Part III)
After the touch light red on sweaty faces (l: 322, Part V)
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl. (l: 344, Part V)
But when I look ahead up the white road (l: 361, Part V)
Gliding wrapt in brown mantle, hooded (l: 363, Part V)
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air (l: 372, Part V)
A woman drew her long black hair out tight (l: 377, Part V)
And bats with baby faces in the violet light (l: 379, Part V)
And crawled head downward down a blackened wall. (l: 381, Part V)
Waited for rain while the black clouds (l: 396, Part V)
Dead: The word ‘dead’ is a substitute for the wasteland, and the entire poem is
concerned with the issue of life and death both physically and spiritually. Thus, this is
the only lexical item used in all the five parts of the poem.
Lilacs out of the dead land (l: 2, Part I)
And the dead tree gives no shelter (l: 23, Part I)
I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing. (ll: 39- 40, Part I)
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine (l: 68, Part I)
Where the dead men lost their bones (l: 116, Part II)
And walked among the lowest of the dead. (l: 245, Part III)
Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead (l: 312, Part IV)
He who was living is now dead (l: 328, Part V)
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit (l: 339, Part V)
The other lexical items belonging to the same word class are ‘death’ and ‘died’, which
are used with a very low frequency:
Fear death by water (l: 55, Part I)
I had not thought death had undone so many (l: 63, Part I)
And on the king my father’s death before him (l: 192, Part III)
She’s had five already, and nearly died of young George. (l: 160, Part II)
Dry: Dryness is essential feature of The Waste Land, standing in utter
contradistinction to the wetness theme; therefore, this lexical item is used at a number
of places throughout the poem.
A little life with dried tubers. (l: 7, Part I)
And the dry stone no sound of water. (l: 24, Part I)
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Journal of Research (Faculty of Languages & Islamic Studies) 2003 Vol.4
And bones cast in a little low dry garret (l: 194, Part III)
Her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last rays (l: 225, Part III)
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand (l: 337, Part V)
But dry sterile thunder without rain (l: 342, Part V)
And dry grass singing (l: 354, Part V)
Dry bones can harm no one. (l: 390, Part V)
Fear: Fear is a dominant feeling in The Waste Land which manifests at a few
places in the poem:
And I was frightened. (l: 15, Part I)
I will show you fear in a handful of dust (l: 30, Part I)
Fear death by water (l: 55, Part I)
Fish: Although fish seems to be quite out of place in The Waste Land, this lexical
item implicitly refers to the cult of fertility and vegetation through the Fisher king.
While I was fishing in the dull canal (l: 189, Part III)
Where fishmen lounge at noon (l: 263, Part III)
I sat upon the shore
Fishing with arid plain behind me (ll : 424-25, Part V)
Garden: Garden is used twice in the entire poem, but both these uses suggest a
gruesome picture of horror rather than covey a sense of beauty, fertility and greenness:
The corpse you planted last year in your garden. (l: 71, Part I)
After the frosty silence in the garden (l: 323, Part V)
Light: The lexeme ‘light’ is used at seven different places in three different senses:
literal, metaphorical and symbolic:
Looking into the heart of light, the silence (l: 41, Part I)
Reflecting light on the table (l: 83, Part II)
In which sad light a curved dolphin swam (l: 96, Part II)
Under the fire light, under the brush, her hair (l: 108, Part II)
Clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove (ll: 222-23, Part III)
After the torch light red on sweaty faces (l: 322, Part V)
In a flash of lightening. Then a damp gust (l: 393, Part V)
If the first use refers to a sense of loss, the next four suggest a literal sense in a
descriptive and narrative context. The sixth use conveys a deeper sense of physical
anguish at its apex in an absolutely parched, arid land, whereas the last one is a harbinger
of transforming sterility into fertility.
Living: This term is used four times in the entire poem, but everywhere is
accompanied by death or dying. If The Waste Land manifests a state of decay, it also
9
Lexico-thematic Coherence in the Waste Land
demonstrates continuity of that process.
I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing (ll: 39-40, Part I)
Are you alive or not? (l: 126, Part II)
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying. (ll: 328-29, Part V)
Mountain: Mountain is the dominant physical feature of The Waste Land,
highlighting the prevalent sense of aridity and dryness. The following lines demonstrate
this aspect:
In the mountain, there you feel free (l: 17, Part I)
Of thunder of spring over distant mountain (l: 327, Part V)
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water (ll: 333-34, Part V)
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit (l: 339, Part V)
There is not even silence among the mountain (l: 341, Part V)
There is not even solitude in the mountains (l: 343, Part V)
What is the city over the mountain (l: 371, Part V)
In this decayed hole among the mountains (l: 385, Part V)
Rain: Rain is the dire need of the wasteland and this image both overlaps with
and reinforces the water or the thunder image.
Dull roots with spring rain (l: 4, Part I)
With a shower of rain (l: 9, Part I)
And if it rains, a closed car at four (l: 136, Part II)
But dry sterile thunder without rain (l: 342, Part V)
Then a damp gust
Bringing rain (ll: 393-94, Part V)
Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rains (ll: 395-96, Part V)
Rat: The ‘rat’ image further exacerbates the sense of decadence and abhorrence
prevalent in The Waste Land. The same image is used repeatedly by the poet in his
earlier works also.
I think we are in rat’s alley (l: 115, Part II)
A rat crept softly through the vegetation (l: 187, Part III)
Rattled by the rat’s foot only (l: 195, Part III)
Rock: The rock image overlaps with the mountain and both reinforce the notion
of dryness.
There is shadow under this red rock
Come in under the shadow of this red rock (ll: 25-26, Part I)
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Journal of Research (Faculty of Languages & Islamic Studies) 2003 Vol.4
Here is Belladona, the Lady of the Rock (l: 49, Part I)
Here is no water but only rock (l: 331, Part V)
Which is the mountains of rock without water (l: 334, Part V)
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think (l: 336, Part V)
If there were only water amongst the rock (l: 338, Part
If there were water
And no rocks
If there were rock (ll: 346-48, Part V)
A pool among the rock (l: 351, Part V)
But sound of water over a rock (l: 355, Part V)
Seasons: There are a few references to the three major seasons of the year, i.e.,
spring, summer and winter, but quite in consonance with the bizarre nature of the land,
none of the seasons is used in the traditional sense:
Stirring
Dull roots in spring rain
Winter kept us warm (ll: 3-5, Part I)
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergerse (l: 8, Part I)
I read much of the night, and go south in the winter (l: 18, Part I)
which shall bring
Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring. (ll: 197-98, Part III)
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains (l: 327, Part V)
Shadow: This image is the reverse of reality, presenting the unnatural aspect of
the land; however, its use is confined to the first part of the poem only, dealing with the
generic features of the wasteland.
There is shadow under this red rock
Come in under the shadow of this rock. (ll: 25-26, Part I)
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you. (ll: 28-29, Part I)
Silence: Silence overlaps with the theme of fear prevalent in the poem,
nevertheless, the actual use of the lexeme has a very low frequency.
Looking into the heart of light, the silence (l: 41, Part I)
There is not even silence in the mountain (l: 341, Part V)
The jungle crouched, humped in silence. (l: 398, Part V)
Sound: This lexeme primarily conveys an urge for water rather than referring to a
social noisy humdrum life.
And the dry stone no sound of water (l: 24, Part I)
But sound of water over a rock (l: 355, Part V)
What is that sound high in the air (l: 366, Part V)
11
Lexico-thematic Coherence in the Waste Land
Speak: Due to the prevalent fear motif, there is emphasis on speech to break the
silence. Despite repeated insistence, the addressee(s) does not speak, but once words
are uttered, the entire complexion of the wasteland appear to change.
Speak to me, why do you never speak, speak (l: 112, Part II)
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long (l:184, Part III)
Then spoke the thunder (l: 399, Part V)
Time: The temporal reference pervades the first three parts of the poem,
subsuming the different periods of the day.
I read much of the night, and go south in the winter. (l: 18, Part I)
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you (ll: 28-29, Part I)
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn (l: 61, Part I)
My nerves are bad tonight. Yes bad. Stay with me. (I: 111, Part II)
Or other testimony of summer nights. (l: 179, Part III)
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse (l: 190, Part III)
Under the brown fog of a winter noon (l: 208, Part III)
On the divan are piled (at night her bed) (l: 226, Part III)
Where fishmen lounge at noon (l: 263, Part III)
If looked at carefully, most of these temporal references have an aura of bleakness
and confusion.
Towers: Tower is the symbol of civilization, cultural order and authority, and so
the destruction of this symbol could suggest anarchy, lawlessness and disorder. The
September 11 attack on the twin towers in New York was deemed synonymous as an
attack on the civilised world by the president of the United States of America. In The
Waste Land, Eliot moves from an idealized pure tower, through destruction, to an
impossible, nightmare vision of an upside down tower.
White towers (l: 289, Part III)
Falling towers (l: 373, Part V)
And upside down in air were towers (l: 382, Part V)
Vegetation: A number of lexical items directly and indirectly refer to the vegetation
theme. It sounds unusual to expect lexical items of this category in a dry, deserted land,
but true to the notion of drought and aridity, the choice of diction rather than referring
to fertility and life has a tinge of decadence.
Dull roots with spring rain (l: 4, Part I)
A little life with dried tubers (l: 7, Part I)
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow (l: 19, Part I)
And the dead tree gives now shelter, the cricket no relief (l:23, Part I)
That corpse you planted last year in your garden
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year (l: 71-72, Part I)
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Journal of Research (Faculty of Languages & Islamic Studies) 2003 Vol.4
A rat crept softly through the vegetation. (l: 187, Part III)
Water:- The last and the most significant lexical item is water, a key symbol of life
and fertility in the wasteland. Like the lexeme ‘dead’, the water image is used almost in
all the parts of the Poem, and this symbol has even higher frequency of occurrence
than ‘dead’. Through ‘water’, the deadness of the wasteland can be brought back to
life:
And the dry stone no sound of water (l: 24, Part I)
Fear death by water (l: 55, Part I)
The hot water at ten (l: 135, Part II)
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept. (l: 182, Part III)
The wash their feet in soda water (l: 201, Part III)
This music crept by me upon the waters (l: 257, Part III)
Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy rock (ll: 331-32, Part V)
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink (l:334-35, Part V)
If there were only water amongst the rock (l: 338, Part V)
If there were water (l: 345, Part V)
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only (l: 348-352, Part V)
But sound of water over a rock (l: 355, Part V)
But there is no water (l: 358, Part V)
The lexical items presented in alphabetical order above reveal the core vocabulary,
which form the texture of The Waste Land, and has been presented in the following
table:
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Lexico-thematic Coherence in the Waste Land
Table 1
Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V
Lexemesin Line Numbers Line Numbers Line Numbers Line Numbers Line Numbers Frequency
alphabatil
order
Antique 97, 156, 02
Bed 73 226, 02
Bells 288 384 02
Body Parts 38, 39, 48, 52, 81, 125, 126, 186,188, 193, 337,339, 344, 34
53, 65 133,138, 144, 195,201, 215, 378,380, 403,
158 219,228, 240, 421
251,255,294,
296, 297, 303
Bones 117, 186, 194, 316 390 05
Broken 22, 173, 303 408, 416 05
Colours 25, 26, 61 95 175,208,215, 322,344,361, 19
220,283, 289, 363,372,377,
379,381, 396,
Dead/ Death 2, 23, 40, 116, 160 192, 245 312 328, 339 13
/ Died 55, 63, 68
Dry 7, 24 194, 225 337 342, 354, 390 08
Fear 15, 30, 55 03
Fish 189,263 425 03
Garden 71 323 02
Light 41 83,96,108 222 322,393 07
Living 40 126 328,329 04
Mountain 17 327,333,334,339, 09
341,343,371,385
Rain 4,9 136 342,394,396, 05
Rat 115 187,195 03
Rock 25,26,49 331,334,336,338, 11
347,348,351,355
Seasons 4, 5, 8, 18 198 327 06
Shadow 25, 26,28,29 04
Silence 41 341, 398 03
Sound 24 355, 366 03
Speak 112 184 399 03
Time 18, 28, 29, 61 111, 179, 190, 208, 10
226, 263
Towers 289 373, 382 03
Vegetation 4, 7, 19, 23, 187 07
71, 72
Water 24, 55, 135, 182, 201, 257, 331,332, 334, 335, 17
338,346, 348, 349,
352 355, 358
14
Journal of Research (Faculty of Languages & Islamic Studies) 2003 Vol.4
The contextual meaning of almost every lexical item is quite in consonance with
the main title of the poem. One can investigate significance of the titles of individual
parts of the poem through the choice of vocabulary within each part, and can also see
expansion of the specific lexical choices throughout the parts, featuring relation and
co-ordination among the different parts which would suggest unity of the poem from
the point of view of linguistics. Such a unity does exist. Therefore, the entire discussion
through a relationship of aesthetic and lexical leads to the coherence of the poem:
Table: 2
Aesthetic lexical I lexical II
Significance of the relevance of lexical significance of thecore lexical
sectional Title items in sections itemsat inter-sectional level
Relationship of The Relationship amongst
individual titles With the different sectionsat
The Broader title i.e. lexical level and their
The Waste Land connection i.e. ,
The Waste Land
Coherence of the
poem at both aesthetic
and lexical level
Conclusion
Every great poem is a microcosm, encapsulating a unique vision of a poet. Similarly,
every great work of art, through a process of selection and rejection, tries to convert
disharmony into harmony and chaos into cosmos. Eliot, too, presents a chaotic world
where everything appears to be in disarray, but he also suggests ways and means in
the last part, how to restore harmony. Besides, every great work of art deals with
sympathy for mankind and this inherent message one gets from The Waste Land through
the three DA sounds ‘Datta’, ‘Dayadhvam’, ‘Damayata’: give, sympathise, control.
The Waste Land may appear to be a mere accumulation of literary bits and pieces
packed in its five parts, but a deeper aesthetic and lexical analysis is quite contrary to
this view. It is a well designed and thought out piece of work consistently pursuing a
major theme, which is supported by minor themes and characters. And finally, one
observes emergence of harmony from this seemingly disproportionate poem of five
parts at more than one level.
15
Lexico-thematic Coherence in the Waste Land
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