“The Fire Sermon” starts off with the speaker sitting alongside a desolate river, surrounded by rats and garbage, while he was both singing to himself and weeping. After a while of this, the speaker is approached by a merchant who asked him in French, if he would like to luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel. It is here that the speaker pronounces himself as Tiresias, a figure who has both male and female parts (“Old man with wrinkled female breasts” (line 219)) and is blind yet could supposedly see the future. Then Tiresias witnessed a man, a clerk, return home and begin caressing his wife and gave in and seemed to just be happy to get it over with. This section of The Wasteland is what Eliot seems to be describing as his view of the wasteland itself. It is cold, dry, barren, littered with garbage, and unpopulated with the exception of rats. With that said, Eliot, in this section, uses random rhyme. This usually occurs at the end each stanza. This section seems to be Eliot’s view on the world around him, crude, and barren. By
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