Emily Spear, University of Rochester
Emily Spear is a second-year graduate student in the English Department at the University of Rochester. She studied philosophy and American Studies as an undergraduate at Fordham University, and she spent some time working at a museum in Alaska and editing a poetry journal in Arkansas before beginning graduate work.
Keeping the Hours with a Dead Sound: Time and Suffering in The Waste Land
Time gives shape to our lives and couches all of our words and actions. Change is not even conceivable without it. Yet we can only sense time's presence indirectly, never touching or seeing or hearing it, even though it frames our perceptions of all other things. The influence of time on our existence sometimes causes excitement, but often becomes a source of suffering. In The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot explores the ways in which time invisibly affects human flesh, mind, and soul. Through poignant imagery and evocative allusions, he conveys the anxiety aroused by aging, loss, and other effects of time. The poem manifests a sustained concern with time’s structuring of memory and desire within the "present" moment which contains both. Its fragmented form and patterns of language encourage a multiple-reading approach that itself emphasizes the impact of time on thought and experience.