T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land Wiki

                     "I sat upon the shore

Fishing, with the arid plain behind me

Shall I at least set my lands in order?


London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down


Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina

Quando fiam ceu chelidon—O swallow swallow

Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie"

The fisherman’s sitting on an arid plain behind him refers to the Fisher King who has gone to the other side of the waste land. “Shall I at least set my lands in order?” is the allusion of The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 38. "Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live". From this we know that the fisherman is responsible for arranging and building the new land for people who will die and and not live. This implies death but at the beginning of the poem, we already analyzed that death is the sign of rebirth. Therefore, the fisherman will purify the new land with new people and new life, even if he will meet a lot of obstacles that were alluded in “London Bridge is falling down”. This phrase was found in a children song, London Bridge Is Falling Down. In this song, even though you have tried all materials but the bridge still fall down. There is nothing that you can do about it. This refers to the truth that in the new land, human might still repeat his mistakes even though God has helped them to purify the world. “Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina” is the allusion in Dante Alighieri’s poem, Purgatorio Canto XXVI. The quote means:

 'And so I pray you, by that virtue

which guides you to the top of the stair,

be reminded in time of my pain.'

      • Then he leapt back into the fire which refines him** Is what the quote means. The original manuscript included the quote, "'sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor'.  Which means what you are referring to - but it was cut. I believe it was cut to emphasize that man must attempt to live a virtuous life on Earth becasue they will not be spared punishment in purgatory even if they beleive in God.

This gives me the picture of God’s carrying the cross up the mountain to expiate human beings’ mistakes. The men then killed him. That moment is the symbol of freedom from sins for all men because of God’s generosity. “Quando fiam uti chelidon” is taken from Pervigilium Veneris. The poet was anonymous. The quote was translated to “When shall I become like the swallow?” This refers back to the story of Tereus, Procne, and Philomela. Three of them become birds and Procne was the one who changed into a swallow. In Pervigilium Veneris, the narrator kept asking that question because she wanted the spring to come. When could she sing again? She was mute like Philomela and she did not have freedom to speak out the truths about life. Singing is the sign of spring and happiness, which leads us to the theme of rebirth in The Wasteland. “Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie” means “The Prince of Aquitaine at the abandoned Tower” which is an allusion of El Desdichado. The Tower here can be another Tarot card. The Tower Tarot card has the meaning of rebirth when it was stroke by lightning. The Tower is the symbol of darkness and destruction. The lightning destroys the old destruction, making new room for the new life. All of the three quotes imply that there is a need of reformation when we have a new life at a new land. Men will try to avoid the old sins. However, how many times will God help to purify the world again? Men must learn something after this because everything has its limit.

A Swallow Bird that signals the Spring is coming

The Tower Tarot Card