T S Eliot's The Waste Land: The poet & the editor

Lesson rationale

Through close reading of The Waste Land in its original manuscript form, students will explore how the poem evolved in the process of editing. They will consider the choices of form and language made by the poet and editor and discuss the extraordinary effect of one of the most influential poems of the 20th century. By reading contemporary letters and reviews, students will be guided towards a more informed understanding of some of the poem’s important images and themes and develop their own personal responses.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • Does learning more about the poet alter our perception of the poem?
  • How does Eliot’s original draft alter under the editorship of Ezra Pound?
  • How do reactions at the time compare to the reception of the poem today?