Behind the Writing: “A Modern Wasteland” (Part III)

Heading into the third part of my T.S. Eliot-inspired piece, A Modern Wasteland. What’s the story behind the story this time…?

I’d like to begin by once again saying thank you for all your kind comments and feedback. It has been much appreciated. And it keeps me wondering over and over, should I have left poetry behind in the first place? To the point where I have been contemplating entering The White Review‘s latest Poet’s Prize with it. Let me know if you think I should (or should not, as the case may be!)

But let’s move onto A Modern Wasteland‘s third stave, entitled, as a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount reference, …LEST THEY TRAMPLE THEM UNDER THEIR FEET



We’ve lived this way for three years now

And what comfortable hour can you name

That ever graced me with your company?

Here we go – tossing ‘round the blame.

You came upon me as a princess,

Cloaked in velvet – a delicate gem.

But you quickly shed your innocence

And all became yours to condemn.

Thus the witch was surely born.

No Sycorax or Maleficent,

More a siren, pure on the surface

A celestial bride, most magnificent,

But a creature who would sooner kick the dog

Than shower it with modes of affection.

Time is running out for me,

This misery confines and offers little objection.

And hence I abandon you at last

Weighted by my regret for years wasted

In solitude and solace I may find

The joy I should long since have tasted.

I have deliberately made the setting of this poem’s narrative, both geographical and historical, very vague. As with Eliot’s original The Waste Land, I wanted to employ some cultural references, however sporadically. And because, as cultural references go, I enjoy a very eclectic mix, I thought it would be fun to highlight that by using two ends of the spectrum. In this stanza, I only use two cultural references, both in the same line. Two witches – Sycorax and Maleficent. The former, an unseen character from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the mother of Caliban. The latter, most of you will know as the main antagonist from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and later on in various Kingdom Hearts games.

Otherwise… can you sense the theme of this stanza? We have had meanness in Part I, guilt in Part II. Now we’re dealing with betrayal and acceptance or realisation that a person is a bad egg. Quite happy to say I’ve known very few such people in my life, but all the same, they helped inspire this next part of A Modern Wasteland.

Part IV and final comes next week. Spoiler alert… don’t look for anything festive to finish off. This poem isn’t telling a happy tale.

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