The image of the cistern appears in a loose leaf of Eliot's notebook,
INVENTIONS OF THE MARCH HARE. It is undated but part of material well
before TWL and in the context of "introspection," which he was thinking
about in relation to Bradley and wrote about to his mother in 1917.
Eliot used images over and over, but this one does not seem to have
begun in religious or in Waste Land sources.
>>> cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> 07/07/07 2:21 PM >>>
Many thanks, Peter.
The "empty cistern" finds an apt elucidation in your citation
of the "broken cisterns, that could hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13).
The water that has drained out could be of "faith", as Diana points
out. But it could as well symbolize the absence of vital emotional
bond between wastelanders. There's a sharp contrast to Eliot's
"empty cisterns and exhausted wells" in Auden's image of a
Mark these rounded slopes
With their surface fragrance of thyme and, beneath,
A secret system of caves and conduits; hear the springs
That spurt out everywhere with a chuckle,
Each filling a private pool for its fish..
The "emptiness" is multifarious too.
And the "voices singing out of empty cisterns" are reminiscent of
"the ariettes /Of cracked cornets" and "the insistent out-of-tune
/ Of a broken violin" in Eliot's 'Portrait of a Lady'.
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