The Waste Island

The Waste Island [1]
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo


Mixing memory and desire in Unreal City
at the violet hour,
with a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There you feel free.

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
There is a shadow under this red rock.
Come in under the shadow of this red rock.

I see crowds of people, walking around in a ring.
One must be so careful these days,
the time is now propitious.
I had not thought death had undone so many.

Has it begun to sprout
that corpse you planted last year in your garden.
Will it bloom this year burned green and orange,
red and gold,
framed by the coloured stone
the barbarous king so rudely forced.

Glowed into words,
filled all the desert with inviolable voice.
Are you alive, or not?
Is there nothing in your head?

I could not speak, and my eyes failed
looking into the heart of light, the silence.
For I speak not loud or long,
neither living nor dead throbbing between two lives.

I too awaited the expected guest,
and I knew nothing.
He promised “a new start”.
I made no comment,
I can connect nothing with nothing.
What should I resent?

My people humble people who expect
The torchlight red on sweaty faces,
the agony in stony places.
The shouting and the crying,
murmur of maternal lamentation.

Voices singing out of empty cisterns.

Each in his prison thinking of the key,
each confirms a prison only at night fall.
A blackened wall
and upside down in air were towers.
The boat responded gaily
to the hand expert with sail and oar.


Beating oars rippled both shores,
carried down stream
past the Isle of Dogs.

Fear death by water.

[1] Elliot, T.S. The Waste Land and Other Poems. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., 1934.

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