T. S. Eliot influenced a whole new generation of writers including Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-109122
The Title Says It All
T.S. Eliot conceives of “The Waste Land” in a letter
"April is the cruelest month.”
That’s the famous opening of the 434-line poem created by American poet T.S. Eliot, who mentioned in a letter to a friend on this day that he “had a long poem in mind and partly on paper.”
Once completed, the first draft of “The Waste Land” was 19 pages long (although it got cut along the way.) Throughout the poem’s five sections, Eliot shifted from scene to scene, from speaker to speaker. He also inserted direct quotations from masterworks by Dante, Whitman, and Shakespeare, as well as the ancient Greeks. But make no mistake—Eliot was a bold and original modernist who broke away from the romantic poetry of the past and became a spokesperson for what he considered the hollowness and bleakness of the 20th century. He gave old words new meanings, created new poetic rhythms, and told us that the world we lived in was spiritually ruined.