Yes, it is now placed in a new context that can, if you want, be read as
religious, but that is not its first appearance. That is what I said.
There are cisterns in the Old Testament and plenty other cisterns.
What is significant here is that TWL has been read in very different
ways since 1922; the religious reading is mainly a look back from later
work and was not what readers first thought. That there are religious
images is not, in itself, reason to see it as longing for religion. In
any case, the cistern does not need to be read through the Old Testament
unless one places it in a larger context that is only one way of reading
>>> cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> 07/07/07 8:13 PM >>>
And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.
The context of this line from 'What the Thunder Said' is already
there in the opening lines of the section:
// He who was living is now dead //
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience
And this elaboration of what Peter Montgomery wrote :
In the Old Testament the empty cisterns and wells signified the loss
of faith and worship of false gods. God tells the prophet Jeremiah:
'For my people have committed two evils; //they have forsaken me
the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken
cisterns, that can hold no water'// (Jeremiah ii, 13).
~ Notes on T.S. Eliot's Selected Poems by Manju Jain
(Delhi: OUP, 1998, p.188):
Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 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.//
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