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Wasted

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Published: 21st June 2021

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This poem was placed 1st = in Brian Strand's "ALL YOURS" (June 22nd) Poetry Contest.

In 1921 both T S Eliot and his wife went to Margate (UK) to convalesce from illness.

During this period of mental and physical fragility for the couple - and with their marriage strained - Eliot worked on parts of 'The Waste Land' while sitting at the Nayland Rock Shelter on the promenade.

In the poem I have imagined what might have happened had my wife and I met him by chance back in 1921.


The first time that we saw him We were worried for his health. He was sat upon a seat nearby And talking to himself. His fingernails were broken Like his unconnected speech And he spoke of really nothing As he stared towards the beach. The next time that we saw him He was stroking a stray cat. It hid its paws beneath its fur Right where the stressed man sat. My wife first smiled then spoke to him And asked him how things were. He was worried that his wife was ill And sad he didn't care. The last time that we saw him His whole head was in his hands. We were sitting on those seats again Across from Margate sands. Beside him was a notepad Dated 1921 He stood up from his seat and then Half smiled and then was gone. We read what he had written On that pad he left behind: “These words of hope then hoplessness Reflect my state of mind..” -------------------------- "On Margate Sands. I can connect Nothing with nothing." (T.S. Eliot)

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021




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Date: 2/21/2022 8:05:00 AM
Gary you are so gifted in telling a beautiful heart touching story through your poetry. I don’t follow people so I have to say you are one of my favourite poets on PS….your poems take me away as they are so moving! Debx
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Gary Radice
Date: 2/21/2022 8:32:00 AM
Thanks for that Deb. Yes I know what you mean. :) I actually like that idea that poems 'take people away' and appreciate your lovely comments. Cheers - Gary
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Deb M.
Date: 2/21/2022 8:08:00 AM
That sounds funny….takes me away so moving Ha! but you know what I mean!
Date: 7/15/2021 8:15:00 AM
Beautiful written Gary, a reflection of our times in 2021, can we ever have hope again after all that has happened, I fear not, as with more things to come is hopelessness now all we have got left I wonder . . . : /
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Gary Radice
Date: 7/15/2021 11:59:00 AM
100 years on from TS Eliot at Margate and mental illness / stress certainly still remains with us. I like to think better times are ahead. I view Covid as a speed bump, and not a stop sign. Indiana, thank you for your valued comments. It's appreciated. Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/29/2021 8:13:00 AM
Remarkably poignant and touching poetic picture, that has sent me back to a reading of ‘The Wasteland’. Thank you, Gary.
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/29/2021 11:55:00 AM
Thank you Geoffrey. It's been 40 years since I last read it at school so it might be time for me to take another look too. PS: I slipped in one of his cats: Macavity The Mystery Cat (aka "The Hidden Paw") from his anthology of cat poems which is another of his works I need to revisit. (The recent film version was awful.) Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/25/2021 9:32:00 PM
Not everybody crossing wasteland gets to other side unfortunately. Many westerns kept us in suspense as to who would make it through. Do we create a wasteland for ourselves, I wonder? Fitting time to revisit Eliot. You did it extremely well - just the right emotional context. Best regards from David in NZ
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/25/2021 11:59:00 PM
David, thank you for your visit, perspective and profound comments that have left me thinking. It's all very much appreciated. Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/24/2021 5:10:00 PM
Marvellous, Gary. What I know about TS Elliot would fit on the back of a perforation on a postage stamp. I think your poem stands on its own two feet even if TS Eliot were just some bloke on a bench. You inspire me to find out more about him. Thank you. Terry
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/25/2021 12:22:00 AM
Thanks Terry. It's 100 years since Eliot wrote The Waste Land and I studied it at A Level so I thought it was a good time to revisit it..or rather the guy who wrote it as the text itself doesn't float my poetic boat. I think The Waste Land was too clever for its own good but that's just my own thoughts. :) Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/23/2021 12:46:00 PM
Gary - brilliantly written, you feel the sadness in this man with each line - so well done. Congratulations on your win David
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/23/2021 1:09:00 PM
Thank you David. I read somewhere that TS Eliot was under pressure to finish The Waste Land from the publishing powers that be. I don't know how true that was but it could have only added to his worries. I do wonder sometimes if some of the lines he wrote at Margate actually refer to him not being able to find his muse: "On Margate Sands. I can connect Nothing with nothing." Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/23/2021 11:50:00 AM
Agony and angst so beautifully encapsulated in your flowing story, Gary. How often we forget even the greatest struggle and walk through darkness' shadows. Congratulations on your win.
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/23/2021 12:25:00 PM
Thank you Sam. You are so right with your comments about struggles. Although The Waste Land is regarded as one of the most important poems of the 20th Century, I have to admit it's not a particular favourite of mine. It's the person behind the poem and his struggles while writing it that fascinate me. Eliot sought the sanctuary of a peaceful seaside resort away from the 'scary' city but I suspect his struggles continued. I often wonder if the 'disjointed' structure of The Waste Land echoed his mental wellbeing. Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/23/2021 6:26:00 AM
Gary, this skillfully-written, expressive poem captures the very essence of depression. Janice
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/23/2021 7:14:00 AM
Thanks for your visit, read and lovely comments Janice. Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/22/2021 10:02:00 AM
Internal pains well expressed. Congratulations!
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/22/2021 10:05:00 AM
Thank you Christuraj. Much appreciated. Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/22/2021 8:04:00 AM
Well composed Gary, it just rolls along as you read it. Mental issues are a scourge, no one ever knows what's going on inside, it's not like you can put a bandage on it. I hadnt heard that story before. Tom
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/22/2021 8:52:00 AM
Thanks Tom. You are right about mental illness being invisible. I think "The Waste Land" title was drawn from the Arthurian legend of The Grail. Here, with much poetic license, I'm linking the title to his own state of mind which obviously must have played a part in his writing. By all accounts Eliot requested 3 months off from his job in a bank and took time out from the city to help recover from his nervous breakdown. Cheers - Gary
Date: 6/21/2021 7:13:00 PM
Incredibly clever writing, Gary. I enjoyed your poem, your style, your way with a story, your rhyme and flow. Just damn good writing, my friend!
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/22/2021 1:39:00 AM
Milt, thank you once again for your valued comments. TS Eliot and The Waste Land has always intrigued me (ever since I learned that he decided to add the 'S' (For Stearns) to his name as otherwise it would spell toilet backwards! :) I added the cat in reference to his "Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats" My poem needs a bit of tidying up around the edges but I'm very happy with it. I like to play with time in my poems. Cheers - Gary PS: Loved your recent Blog! :)
Date: 6/21/2021 5:10:00 PM
Oh, wow, Gary! You got me again with another sad one with a surprise ending :)
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Gary Radice
Date: 6/22/2021 1:33:00 AM
Thank you Ann. By all accounts it was quite a sad time in Eliot's life. His marriage was breaking down, both he and his wife were suffering from mental health issues and (I think) he was considering going to Switzerland (alone) around this time too. Cheers - Gary