The Waste Land

First published in 1922, T. S. Eliot’s ’The Waste Land’ is one of the landmark works of British Modernist poetry. A collage of voices and narrative fragments, the text presents a ‘heap of broken images’ which, despite their discontinuous nature, are themselves highly spatial and cohere to evoke a refracted image of European culture, and of London and the Thames Valley in particular.
Most of the poetry in Spatial Type Two is taken from the Romantic era, and, given the emphasis placed on formal and stylistic innovation by Modernism—in Ezra Pound’s words, ‘make it new!’—one might expect that the visualisations created from ‘The Waste Land’ would be markedly different from the others.  However, although the experience of reading the poem is fragmentary, when we map its contents relatively using the topological form we see that this is not the case visually. The topoi maps shown here share with ‘The Idiot Boy’ and ‘Rime of the Ancyent Marinere’ a looping, figure-of-eight structure, suggesting a shared underlying spatial pattern between this poem and the ballad form which we might not have expected to find.