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The people who've left this stuff behind aren't just the riff-raff, either, but are probably the "heirs of city directors" , meaning that even people of privilege have turned to slobs in the 20th century. And along with the litter replacing the scenic riverbank, the nymphs have been replaced by these city directors, who sound way less awesome, seeing as how they make the river all polluted and gross. Welcome to the Modern World, everyone.

Wear close-toed shoes, please. Eliot's speaker claims, "By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept…" , which might hint at the weeping that the Hebrews did when they stopped by the rivers of Babylon and remembered Zion, the homeland they were exiled from.


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Check out Psalm for more. They've got great chocolate. If you want to go the more general route, this line could also just be the speaker of this poem being really depressed about the world. The use of ellipsis … at the end of this line also contributes to the overall lack of closure that you get throughout. The speaker is trailing off, unsure of where he's going. There's something super creepy about these lines, as though some violent person is standing right behind the speaker, ready to do something awful, and enjoy it. And there's also something eerily familiar…but we'll get to that in just a bit.


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  • Lines A rat crept softly through the vegetation Dragging its slimy belly on the bank While I was fishing in the dull canal On a winter evening round behind the gashouse Musing upon the king my brother's wreck And on the king my father's death before him. A disgusting, slimy rat crawls into the Thames while the speaker is fishing and thinking about "the king my brother's wreck" While the rat provides the pitch-perfect image for the decay that's going on in society in Eliot's time, we're more interested in this wreck. It turns out that this line refers to an early scene from Shakespeare's The Tempest , in which the magician Prospero summons an insane storm to wreck his brother's ship.

    Prospero takes revenge because his jealous brother marooned him on an island twelve years earlier so that he the brother could be king. This reference conveys the sense of being stranded, just as Eliot feels stranded and without hope in the modern world. Lines White bodies naked on the low damp ground And bones cast in a little low dry garret , Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year. The "White bodies naked on the low damp ground" could refer to the people killed by Prospero's storm, or actual dead bodies lying along the bank of the Thames.

    History of Roman-era Tunisia

    Then you hear about the bones that are scattered in a "low, dry garret" somewhere, a garret being a little attic. These bones mostly just gather dust, and are disturbed by "the rat's foot only, year to year" So in case you haven't gotten the point yet, Eliot really wants you to know that the Thames and London is no longer the awesome beautiful place that some poets have made it out to be.

    Now it's got litter and dead bodies. Lines But at my back from time to time I hear The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring Sweeney to Mrs Porter in the spring. Allusions abound! Let's break 'em down. The speaker says that sometimes, he hears the sound of horns and motors, which will bring someone named Sweeney to someone named Mrs.

    by T.S. Eliot

    Porter in the spring. These lines pretty directly allude to a play called Parliament of Bees by John Day. The lines in the play describe Actaeon stumbling upon Diana bathing in the woods, drawn there by a noise of horns and hunting. Only here, Sweeney is figured as a modern-day Actaeon, and instead of Diana, we get Mrs Porter, who's bathing in soda water, rather than, you know, a lovely river.

    Sweeney is a not-so-likeable character from an earlier Eliot poem called "Sweeney Among the Nightingales," and Mrs.

    Carthage's Destruction (In Our Time)

    Porter is from a popular song that was sung by Australian troops during World War I. Lines are taken from this song, and once again they show a sort of mediocre stupidity that keeps ruining or drowning out the things in the world that are truly great. More than any other section of the poem, "The Fire Sermon" includes bits of popular songs to showcase how low culture has sunken, just like leaves into the filthy banks of the Thames.

    Line is written in French, and translates as "And O those children's voices singing in the dome! This line might ironically symbolize the fact that modern people always give in to temptation; they have no resistance or dignity, and this is one of the reasons the world's been ruined. That brings us back to the idea of sex as something horrible and violent, as you can see with the repetition of "so rudely forced" And Philomela's nightingale song continues as well, with a few new notes, too—"twit. Or maybe that's just Shmoop's take. In any case, it's clear that the modern world, with its crappy, polluted rivers, is no place for a beautiful song.

    So instead of the high notes, we get ugly the ugly onomatopoeias of "twit" and "jug. We return to the idea of the phony, superficial "Unreal city," which is covered by a filthy "brown fog of a winter noon" We hear a story about some merchant remember the merchant from the tarot deck? Guess he's a snacker. These two places were notorious in Eliot's time for being secret meeting places where men would hook up with one another sexually.

    In all likelihood, the puritan Eliot found this kind of sex request disgusting, and is using it here as yet one more sign of how awful Western culture has gotten. There's also a strong hint of racism in the representation of this guy from Turkey. Needless to say, we're not meant to look too kindly on this guy. In this instance, you really get a sense of what beautiful poetry Eliot can write.

    He uses cadence here to help this image flow off the page, rather than relying on more obvious tactics like alliteration or meter. Lines I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives, Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea, Enter Tiresias , a prophet from Greek myth whom Eliot calls in his notes "the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest.

    The goddess Hera didn't like that so much, so she transformed him into a woman for seven years. After Tiresias changed back, Hera made a bet with Zeus about who enjoyed sex more, women or men. Tiresias said that women did, and Hera totally freaked out and struck him blind. Zeus felt bad about this, but his hands were tied, so he tried to make up for it by giving Tiresias the power of prophecy. Weird story, right? So why did Eliot pick this dude as the most important personage in the poem? It's probably best to hear it from the horse's mouth, so here's what Eliot had to say about his inclusion of Tiresias in "The Waste Land": "Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias.

    What Tiresias sees in fact, is the substance of the poem. He's a universal kind of guy. In fact, it's totally possible that the speaker of this entire poem is actually Tiresias, but that's just one going theory. Tiresias is "throbbing between two lives" because Eliot portrays him in this poem as a hermaphrodite, a person who is male and female at the same time.

    This is what makes him an "Old man with wrinkled female breasts" Of course that "throbbing" at the "violet hour" is a call back to lines , allying Tiresias with these average Joes at their office desks it's also the hour that Sappho writes about in her poem "Hesperus, you bring back again," to which Eliot alludes here. He's really the everyman of the poem. And he can see something.

    What, we're not sure, so we'll have to keep right on reading. Lines The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights Her stove, and lays out food in tins. Seems like an everyday image —woman, home, and doing chores. But there's something oddly depressing about it. Carthage , Phoenician Kart-hadasht , Latin Carthago , great city of antiquity on the north coast of Africa, now a residential suburb of the city of Tunis , Tunisia. Carthage was probably not the earliest Phoenician settlement in the region; Utica may have predated it by half a century, and various traditions concerning the foundation of Carthage were current among the Greeks, who called the city Karchedon.

    The inhabitants of Carthage were known to the Romans as Poeni, a derivation from the word Phoenikes Phoenicians , from which the adjective Punic is derived. The date of the foundation of Carthage was probably exaggerated by the Carthaginians themselves, for it does not necessarily agree with the archaeological data. Nothing earlier than the last quarter of the 8th century bce has been discovered, a full century later than the traditional foundation date. The Phoenicians selected the locations of their maritime colonies with great care, focusing on the quality of harbours and their proximity to trade routes.

    The site chosen for Carthage in the centre of the shore of the Gulf of Tunis was ideal; the city was built on a triangular peninsula covered with low hills and backed by the Lake of Tunis, with its safe anchorage and abundant supplies of fish. This location offered access to the Mediterranean but was shielded from many of the violent storms that afflicted other Mediterranean ports.

    The site of the city was well protected and easily defensible, and its proximity to the Strait of Sicily placed it at a strategic bottleneck in east-west Mediterranean trade. On the south the peninsula is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. The ancient citadel, the Byrsa, was on a low hill overlooking the sea. Although Punic wealth was legendary, the standard of cultural life enjoyed by the Carthaginians may have been below that of the larger cities of the Classical world.

    Punic interests were turned toward commerce rather than art, and Carthage controlled much of the Western trade in the luxurious purple dye from the murex shell. One notable exception was the work of a Carthaginian writer named Mago , whose 28 books on agriculture were translated into Greek by Cassius Dionysius and later cited by Romans such as Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella. In Roman times Punic beds, cushions, and mattresses were regarded as luxuries, and Punic joinery and furniture were copied.

    From the middle of the 3rd century to the middle of the 2nd century bce , Carthage was engaged in a series of wars with Rome. These wars, which are known as the Punic Wars , ended in the complete defeat of Carthage by Rome and the expansion of Roman control in the Mediterranean world. When Carthage finally fell in bce , the site was plundered and burned. See also North Africa: The Carthaginian period. The "White bodies naked on the low damp ground" could refer to the people killed by Prospero's storm, or actual dead bodies lying along the bank of the Thames.

    Then you hear about the bones that are scattered in a "low, dry garret" somewhere, a garret being a little attic.

    These bones mostly just gather dust, and are disturbed by "the rat's foot only, year to year" So in case you haven't gotten the point yet, Eliot really wants you to know that the Thames and London is no longer the awesome beautiful place that some poets have made it out to be.

    Now it's got litter and dead bodies. Lines But at my back from time to time I hear The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring Sweeney to Mrs Porter in the spring. Allusions abound! Let's break 'em down. The speaker says that sometimes, he hears the sound of horns and motors, which will bring someone named Sweeney to someone named Mrs.

    PDF From Carthage Then I Came

    Porter in the spring. These lines pretty directly allude to a play called Parliament of Bees by John Day. The lines in the play describe Actaeon stumbling upon Diana bathing in the woods, drawn there by a noise of horns and hunting. Only here, Sweeney is figured as a modern-day Actaeon, and instead of Diana, we get Mrs Porter, who's bathing in soda water, rather than, you know, a lovely river. Sweeney is a not-so-likeable character from an earlier Eliot poem called "Sweeney Among the Nightingales," and Mrs.