By Garrett P. (Putman) Serviss
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The Grail, a solution in the world, is not to be found. The coming of the rain will be true only if it actually happens: Eliot shows that the world hints at its possibility. The poem gestures beyond poetry, just as the dandy must renounce it when self-knowledge is attained. The rain is 'du nouveau', an ideal, extra-poetic and transcendental occurrence. To give in The Waste Land is to remember the meaningless. To sympathise is to hear the' aethereal rumours' which offer hope to 'each' trapped in the cell of selfhood.
The Waste Land contains several references to vegetation rites and the quest for the Grail. These very ancient symbols are referred to unclearly, the references failing to construct a clear narrative. This is purposive: it is to this that such phantasmagoric elements in the poem as the dead crowd, Mme Sosostris, and the warning I will show you fear in a handful of dust point. They are correspondances dimly perceived. Eliot is unsure of their truth, a problem whose answer lies beyond the poem. The reader must decide whether they are real or illusory by reference to historical or religious actuality.
Baudelaire and Eliot 25 The third Prelude addresses a woman by night. She dozes, and watches 'the thousand sordid images' of which her soul is composed. As in 'Le Voyage',86 self-knowledge is identified with the sum of perceptions. The woman is no greater than her experience, whereas the poet rises above his by virtue of his poetry. The woman deserves celebration because You had such a vision of the street As the street hardly understands; Sitting along the bed's edge, where You curled the papers from your hair, Or clasped the yellow soles of feet In the palms of both soiled hands.