As is true for most readers, when I first encountered The Waste Land in the 1960s, I found myself in a very foreign poetic land. I read the annotations and explications. I listened to my professors. I reread and mad innumerable margin notes. I felt the poem’s power and despair. But its meaning seemed hard to parse.
Now, decades later, rereading yet again, I know the poem and the poem knows me. We still live in The Waste Land. The loss of all mooring after WWI still remains a debris we drift with. But the poem itself seems very approachable now, its discordant ballet of voices powerful as ever, but its sense much more apparent to me.
You must read and reread this poem. My critical opinion of it had moved over time to it being overrated—but now, no. It is a seminal poem of the last century. And its relevance today is profound.