- Apr 2019
Liner notes, narrated audio, and all physical rewards will also be exclusive to subscribers.
Release Lucky #13: A thirteenth live album, collecting the band’s upcoming 2019 tour, delivered as a bonus at the conclusion of the subscription
Limited edition t-shirt of William Schaff’s A Dream in the Dark cover design.
I mean, this is alone worth the money you're shelling for this box of wisdom.
A Dream in the Dark is a collection of twelve digital live albums spanning two decades – from Okkervil River’s earliest shows up to the present day. It presents a comprehensive history of the band through the lens of concerts instead of studio albums, and it draws from a massive archive of recordings catalogued by Will Sheff and by fans throughout the years.
This is utterly worth it. I've yet to see a collection so painstakingly collated, with so much extras in one single package - and that's only the first one, which is so far the sole release out there!
This'll be like xmas, Summer holidaze, and Okkervil playing your living room, all at once!
- Sep 2018
- Aug 2018
bhorred Styx the flood of deadly hate, Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud Heard on the ruful stream; fierce Phlegeton [ 580 ] Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Farr off from these a slow and silent stream, Lethe the River of Oblivion roules Her watrie Labyrinth, whereof who drinks, Forthwith his former state and being forgets, [ 585 ] Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Milton takes the ancient Greek geographical concept of Hades and its rivers - when Hades is not at all like hell -and uses it as basis for the Christian hell (maybe in part because he and many Christian leaders placed pagans and others of virtue who lived before Christ in the Limbo between Heaven and Hell).
Wikipedia has an article on the Greek underworld Hades at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_underworld Wikipedia also has a page on Christian views of Hades. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_Hades The rivers that Milton mentions exist in the Greek view of hell but with some slight differences. For example, Styx is not "abhorred Styx the flood of deadly hate". Gods swore unbreakable oaths on the River Styx, whose waters were believed to make one invulnerable to death.
- Sep 2017
Why is this code so important? It was the first ever summarized code of law to help provide structure for his subjects. Was actually deity? Nope! In my opinion, he was a visionary and his subjects did not know how to address his abilities. Marduk was the god of the Amorites
- May 2017
The Mackenzie River is a major river system in northwestern North America. It is exceeded only in basin size by the Mississippi-Missouri system. The entire Mackenzie River system is 2,635 miles long and passes through many lakes before emptying into the Beaufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean. The Mackenzie River alone is 1,025 miles long when measured from Great Slave Lake. It begins at Great Slave Lake where the elevation is 512 feet above sea level. Great Slave Lake can be as deep as 2,000 feet in certain places. It is filled with clear water on the eastern side and shallow, murky water on the western side. The headwaters of the Mackenzie River include numerous large rivers. The drainage basins of the Mackenzie River include the Liard River, Peace River, and Athabasca River. The ice that forms on the Mackenzie River over the winter months begins the break up in early to mid-May in the southern sections. Ice covering some portions of the Mackenzie River can break up as late as the end of May. The Mackenzie River basin is home to a very small and sparse population despite the natural resources available in this area. This area is home to muskrat, marten, beaver, lynx, and fox. Pulpwood and other small conifer trees can be found here. Petroleum and natural gas are usually the underlying reason larger settlements have formed in this area (Robinson 1999).
Robinson, J. Lewis. 1999. Mackenzie River. July 26. Accessed May 2017, 2017. https://www.britannica.com/place/Mackenzie-River#ref466063.
Fort Simpson was originally established by the Hudson’s Bay Company at a location on the north shore of the Nass River estuary. In the summer of 1834, the Hudson’s Bay Company moved its fort to a site on the Tsimshian peninsula at McLoughlin Bay, which is now called Port Simpson, British Columbia (Patterson 1994). In 1858 and 1894, Roman Catholic missionaries reached Fort Simpson and permanently resided there. The Roman Catholic Mission provided many resources for the community, such as St. Margaret’s Hospital built in 1916 and a school in St. Margaret’s Hall built in 1917. St. Margaret’s Hall was replaced by the Federal Day School in 1974 and was run by the Federal Government. Fort Simpson is still inhabited today and is a quite popular tourist destination. It is the only village in the Northwest Territories with a population of approximately 1,250. Some people of Fort Simpson still identify as Dene. Fort Simpson is accessible via airplane or highway. The Liard Trail Highway leads to Fort Simpson from British Columbia and the Mackenzie Highway reaches Fort Simpson from Alberta. Since both of these highways pass through expanses of nature, it is possible to see black bear, moose, woodland caribou, lynx, wolves, and bison alongside the highways (Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce n.d.).
Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce. n.d. Fort Simpson Nortwest Territories Canada. Accessed May 8, 2017. http://www.fortsimpson.com.
Patterson, E. Palmer. 1994. ""The Indians Stationary Here": Continuity and Change in the Origins of the Fort Simpson Tsimshian." Anthropologica 181-203.
Hay River is a town in the Northwest Territories, Canada that was incorporated at a town in 1963. It is located on the south shore of Great Slave Lake, at the mouth of the Hay River. This town is located 201 air kilometers southwest of Yellowknife. The town was permanently settled in 1868 by the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish a trading post with Anglican and Catholic missions. The Catholic church built during the late 1800s in Hay River is still being used today in the Hay River Reserve. The Hay River Reserve is home to about 300 K’atlodeechee First Nation and was created in 1974. Before the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the area was used by the Slavey Dene people. The town had a population of approximately 3,606 in 2011. Most members of the current Hay River community have ties to the postwar construction of the Mackenzie Highway. Due to its important transportation and communication amenities and abilities, Hay River earned the nickname “the hub of the north.” This town houses the staging point for shipping up the Mackenzie River and the commercial fisheries of Great Slave Lake. The economy of Hay River today relies heavily on private enterprise (The Canadian Encyclopedia, n.d.).
The Canadian Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Hay River. Retrieved from Historica Canada: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/hay-river/
Designed during the first months of World War II, the Canol Pipeline brought oil from Norman Wells near the Mackenzie River to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Once the oil was refined, it would be sent to Alaska via pipeline to ensure that the Japanese navy could not intercept any transport. The oil deposits at Norman Wells were discovered by the explorer Alexander Mackenzie during the 18th century. In January of 1942, Lieutenant General Brehon Somervell, commanding general of the Army Service Forces, ordered James H. Graham, former dean of engineering at the University of Kentucky, to investigate the possibility of harvesting oil from Norman Wells. On April 29, 1942, General Somervell immediately approved the recommendation of Dean Graham to implement a pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse (O'Brien, 1970). The construction began in 1942 and was completed in 1944 by the United States Army. A road was also constructed alongside the Canol pipeline during this time. In 1945, soon after the completion of the Canol Pipeline, the volume of crude oil that was able to be transported compared to the cost of operating the pipeline could not be justified. The Canol Pipeline was shut down and abandoned in 1945 (Wilson, 1991).
O'Brien, C. F. (1970). The Canol Project: A Study in Emergency Military Planning. The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 101-108.
Wilson, W. H. (1991). Review: A Walk on teh Canol Road: Exploring the First Major Northern Pipeline. The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 114.
James Bay hydro-electric project
The James Bay hydroelectric project proposed to construct watersheds along the eastern shores of the Hudson Bay from James Bay to Ungava Bay in Canada. This distance is approximately 750 miles. It would alter nineteen waterways and create 27 reservoirs (Linton, 1991). The first phase of construction, called La Grande River phase, was planned to generate more than ten megawatts, which is the equivalent of roughly ten nuclear power plants. This portion of the project would require large impoundment reservoirs, comparable to the size of the state of Connecticut. The James Bay hydroelectric project was the first “mega-scale hydroelectric project to be built in the sub-Arctic.” The project was proposed in the early 1970s, at a time when “physical and social environmental effects were not taken into significant consideration” (Hornig, 2000). Due to its timing and lack of environmental assessment and research, the James Bay hydroelectric project was compared to the Mackenzie Valley pipeline proposals of Arctic Gas and Foothills within the Berger Inquiry. At the time, during the 1970s, there were few people who actively opposed the construction of the James Bay hydroelectric plant. They included the Cree inhabitants of the area and some environmental activists. However, during the 1980s, after the completion of the La Grande River phase, opposition became more frequent and more apparent as concerns about environmental impacts became more well-known.
Hornig, J. F. (2000). Review: Social and Environmental Impacts of teh James Bay Hydroelectric Project. Natural Resources & Environment, 121.
Linton, J. I. (1991). Guest Editorial: The James Bay Hydroelectric Project -- Issue of the Century. Arctic, iii-iv.
Churchill Falls hydro-electric project
The Churchill Falls hydro-electric project was inaugurated by Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, on June 16, 1972. This hydro-electric plant was constructed between 1967 and 1975 and completed one year ahead of the predicted schedule. At the height of its construction, approximately 6,300 workers were present in the summer of 1970. The majority of construction occurred in the summer months, although construction continued year-round despite harsh conditions in Labrador where temperatures dipped to -21°C with a mean annual snowfall of 406 centimeters. The Churchill Falls power station is located in southern Labrador about 1,100 kilometers from an urban area. The Churchill Falls hydro-electric project was the largest hydro-electric project at the time, capable of generating 5,225 mW of electricity. It creates this energy by utilizing the water of the Churchill and Naskaupi Rivers which have a total catchment area of about 67,340 km2 combined. The underground power station is about 305 meters below ground. It uses eleven generators with a combined capacity of 5,225,000 kW. In order to utilize this harvested energy, large power lines capable of handling voltages up to 735 kV were put in place to transmit the energy from Churchill Falls to the Hydro-Quebec transmission system in the Manicouagan-Outardes hydro complex. The distance between these two stations is 606 kilometers. The energy from Churchill Falls was also transmitted via power lines to the Labrador City-Wabush area (Crabb, 1973).
Crabb, P. (1973). Churchill Falls- The Costs and Benefits of a Hydro-Electric Development Project. Geography, 330-335.
The Mackenzie Highway is the longest in the Northwest Territories. It begins at the Northwest Territory and Alberta border and ends at Wrigley, Northwest Territory. It is approximately 690 kilometers or 429 miles long. About 280 kilometers are paved while the rest of the highway is covered with gravel (Government of Northwest Territories, n.d.). The construction of this highway was ongoing between the 1940s and 1970s. In 1945, the Canadian federal government and the government of Alberta signed an agreement to build an all-weather road that would replace the existing Caterpillar tractor trails from Grimshaw to the Great Slave Lake of Hay River (Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center, n.d.). As time passed and focus shifted to fossil fuel collection, the motivation behind further construction of the Mackenzie Highway was in “anticipation of a major oil pipeline development along the Mackenzie River valley” (Pomeroy, 1985). The intended use of the highway was to enable the pipeline developers to haul construction materials throughout the area. During its construction, many chiefs of the Indian Brotherhood opposed the completion of the Mackenzie Highway. There was additional opposition voiced from the people of Wrigley who also did not support further construction of the Mackenzie Highway (Cox, 1975).
Cox, B. (1975). Changing Perceptions of Industrial Development in the North. Human Organization, 27-33.
Government of Northwest Territories. (n.d.). Transportation Highway 1. Retrieved from Government of Northwest Territories: http://www.dot.gov.nt.ca/Highways/Highway_System/NWTHwy1
Pomeroy, J. (1985). An Identification of Environmental Disturbances from Road Developments in Subarctic Muskeg. Arctic, 104-111.
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center. (n.d.). Historical Timeline of the Northwest Territories. Retrieved from Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center: http://www.nwttimeline.ca/1925/1948_MackenzieHighway.htm
- Port Simpson
- Indian Brotherhood
- James H. Graham
- Mackenzie Highway
- hydro-electric project
- Alexander Mackenzie
- Hudson Bay
- La Grande River phase
- Churchill Falls
- Naskaupi River
- Northwest Territories
- James Bay hydroelectric project
- power station
- Athabasca River
- Lieutenant General Brehon Somervell
- hydro-electric plant
- Fort Simpson
- Hudson's Bay Company
- McLoughlin Bay
- Great Slave Lake
- Hay River
- James Bay
- Arctic Ocean
- Churchill River
- all-weather road
- St. Margaret's Hospital
- Mackenzie River system
- Federal Day School
- Ungava Bay
- Canol Pipeline
- Normal Wells
- Beaufort Sea
- World War II
- Nass River
- Mackenzie River
- Peace River
- Hay River Reserve
- St. Margaret's Hall
- Northwest Territory
- Liard River
- Apr 2017
Great Slave Lake
The Great Slave Lake was found in 1771 by Samuel Hearne (Ernst). Many others passed through during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896-1899, but the region surrounding the Great Slave Lake remained greatly unoccupied. In 1930, a radioactive uranium mineral called pitchblende, or uraninite, was discovered on the shore of the Great Slave Lake and incentivized colonizers. 1934, gold was discovered on Yellowknife Bay, which led to a Yellowknife community settlement. Today, additional communities in this region include Hay River, Fort Resolution, Fort Providence, and Behchoko. The Great Slave Lake is the fifth largest lake is North America and is part of the Mackenzie River System. The Lake gets its name from a tribe of Native Americans called Slavery First Nations (National Geographic). This tribe fished for sustenance and did not explore farther than their immediate surroundings. Their neighbors, the Cree, thought the tribe was weak and often called them awonak, which means slaves. Explorer Peter Pond named the lake the Slave Lake in 1785 and then the Great Slave Lake in 1790. The Lake is known for its variety of types of fish, including trout, pike, and Arctic grayling. The Great Slave Lake is covered in snow and ice 8 months out of the year. The Great Slave Lake region is also the home to the largest intact forest in the world, the Boreal Forest, which contains evergreens, bogs, shallow lakes, and ponds (Pala). This Great Slave Lake cove is the habitat for caribou, waterfowl, beavers, and many fish species.
Ernst, Chloe. "The History and Sites of Great Slave Lake: A Visitor's Guide.” PlanetWare.com. Accessed April 06, 2017. http://www.planetware.com/northwest-territories/great-slave-lake-cdn-nt-ntgs.htm.
National Geographic, February 2002, 1. Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources (accessed April 5, 2017). http://find.galegroup.com/grnr/infomark.do?&source=gale&idigest=6f8f4a3faafd67e66fa023866730b0a1&prodId=GRNR&userGroupName=bucknell_it&tabID=T003&docId=A83374988&type=retrieve&PDFRange=%5B%5D&contentSet=IAC-Documents&version=1.0.
Pala, Christopher. "Forests forever. (Forest conservation in Canada)." Earth Island Journal, September 22, 2010.
Pointed Mountain pipeline
The Pointed Mountain Pipeline is a 34.2-mile long natural gas pipeline that connects a dehydration plant at Beaver River in British Columbia, with another plant at Pointed Mountain in the Northwest Territories (Landeen, Brandt). The pipeline extends across British Columbia, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. The pipeline crosses the Kotaneelee and La Biche Rivers. Construction on the pipeline began January 24, 1972 and the pipeline was completed in March of 1972, but was not in operation. Throughout the construction of the pipeline, scientists worried about the environmental factors of the pipeline, such as permafrost melting, bank instability, and siltation of rivers. The pipeline was built through a permafrost region. Because the natural gas has the ability to melt the permafrost, weights were attached to the pipe to prevent it from surfacing. Scientists were concerned about bank instability due to erosion when the pipeline crossed the Kotaneelee River. Sandbags supported the pipeline in order to increase stability. Drainage pipes were also added to prevent erosion. Scientists were also concerned about the high water levels in the rivers during spring thaw. The pipes were placed in a deep trench, surrounded by concrete to prevent rising of the pipes during flooding. The trench then fills in with water to prevent river overflow. A map showing the installation of the pipeline can be found below:
Landeen, B. A., and W. C. Brandt. "Impressions on the construction of the Pointed Mountain Gas Pipeline." Environment Canada Fisheries and Marine Service, November 1975. Accessed April 06, 2017. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/15011.pdf
- Mar 2017
Kugmallit Bay is a a bay located in Northwestern Territories of Canada, roughly 4000km away from Ottawa. Near the eastern border of Alaska, Kugmallit Bay is the end destination for the eastern brach of the largest river in the North American Arctic, the Mackenzie River. With an average yearly temperature of -8°C, the Kugmallit Bay is often covered by fast ice, or landfast ice. In August of 2010, part of Kugmallit Bay was portioned off as part of the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area. This area covers roughly 1800 square kilometers and protects areas of the Mackenzie River Delta as well as estuaries in the Beaufort Sea. Through collaborative efforts by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Inuvialuit people, private industry and shareholders, and the Canadian government the Tarium Niryutait MPA was created. The MPA is part of Canada’s expanding network of protected ocean areas, it also plays an important role in fulfilling Canada’s commitments to managing Canada’s oceans resources.
"Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area." Beaufort Sea Partnership. N.p., n.d. Web.
- Nov 2015
Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, 40 Looking into the heart of light, the silence. Öd’ und leer das Meer.
For the first time the speaker introduces the horrors inflicted by the Waste Land. The speaker reminisces, fighting back his horrific reality to go back to a time of happiness, of hope. But the real world proves to be too much for the speaker to endure; reality becomes an abyss of suffering, fantasies dissolve, and the remaining desolation drives the speaker to madness.
The end comes at the beginning; it starts with a recoil. The hyacinth girl is only an echo of simpler and happier times. When the speaker attempts to communicate with her, the reality of the Waste Land floods in all at once. Memories of the hyacinth girl and the garden manage to push him forward. When he reaches the connecting point between the Thames and North Sea, all hope is extinguished: the speaker, “could not / Speak,” “[his] eyes failed” (38-9), as he witnesses the sea meeting the same fate as the river, and civilization around both. Amidst an endless nothingness, the very nature of life and death falters. The speaker is, “neither / Living nor dead,” and with a visual confirmation of the very basic elements of life unraveling before his eyes, the speaker, “knew nothing” (40). Without civilization, without the river, without the sea, there is no future for the speaker, only “Oed’ und leer das Meer,” or “waste and the empty sea” (42).
At this point the speaker can no longer live in the present, and can only look back. As Eliot navigates the speaker through the Waste Land, the poem slowly traces along the coast, retracing the speaker’s steps. The speaker’s journey takes him from the coast of Margate to the meeting point between the Thames and North Sea, into the middle of civilization, and back out to sea, the beginning of primordial life. The journey forces him to witness the desolation and hopelessness of the Waste land. He offers a brief reminiscence of his time in Margate in the Fire Sermon, where on the beach he, “can connect / Nothing with nothing,” desperately clawing at the sand, digging with, “The broken fingernails of dirty hands” (301-303), for something, anything to end his solitude. Not even a small beach crab or simple form of life is present to comfort him. Although he is before the vastness of the ocean, a worldly presence teeming with life, all that lies before the speaker is water and sand.
Despite living in a state of perpetual sorrow, the speaker chooses to travel east to Margate, rather than traveling south to the cliffs of Dover, a place where he could easily end his suffering. Perhaps Eliot suggests the speaker stays to the north because he knows suicide, or even rebirth at the cliffs is futile against the pain of the Waste Land. Exemplified by Edgar and Gloucester in King Lear, the cliffs of Dover, and death by water, represent a means of simultaneously changing identity and achieving absolution. Becoming someone new is not an acceptable way to escape the Waste Land; absolution through a watery plunge is equally not an option. Eliot’s speaker chooses unending torment instead. The speaker’s stays to the north, opting for the calm waters of Margate instead of the tumultuous cliffs of Dover, clinging to some kind of hope that maybe by persisting in life the madness will eventually come to an end.
The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
In just the opening five words to Part III, “The Fire Sermon,” the speaker shatters at once our natural inclination to romanticize waterways as self-sustaining and enduring ecosystems.
(The River Thames has a rich history of being depicted this way in literature. For example, in the lines that end this portion Eliot recites the line “Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song” from “Prothalamion,” by Edmund Spenser; another example that comes to mind is Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in which Marlow finds great peace and serenity while on the same river.)
With bitter and mournful nostalgia, such portrayals of the river are juxtaposed, as we are given a dose of sad reality when reminded of the river’s impermanence: for in “tent” we think of portable and temporary shelter or canopy. With “broken,” we gain an understanding that the once brimming with life ecosystem in and around the river is now at death’s door, that life is not unfolding as it should and as it once did. Life itself, not just the “last finger of leaf,” is wilting. In this way, the river will soon be just another causality of “The Wasteland.”
What follows in “the last fingers of leaf / Clutch and sink into the wet bank” further suggests that these are the last vestiges of green, lush, leafy life. With the sense that the canopy is fading fast overhead, we then zoom out to see an even more barren and lifeless landscape then first imagined: “The wind / Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.” This paints a picture of a cold and desolate place with little to no sign of life: there is no-one to hear the wind, not even the nymphs. Young, beautiful, and full of life, the departure of these divine spirits suggests that the magic of past literary eras has been forced out as well. However, perhaps this truth is intimated as apropos for a world post WWI -- the ornate literary conventions of the past will no longer suffice for a world in tatters. Such literary traditions will fail to get at the bitter truths. In another context in another poem, “departed” may entail a leave of absence. But not here — the nymphs are dead, rotting away in “The Wasteland.”
- Oct 2015
Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead, Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell And the profit and loss. A current under sea 315 Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell He passed the stages of his age and youth Entering the whirlpool.
In the first part of the wasteland, Phlebes is given a fortunetelling by Madam Sosostris where she draws “the drowned Phoenician soldier.” In the fourth part of the awakening, the prediction comes true as a current takes Phlebes. The symbolic meaning for water usually is seen as an element of purification and healing. In this instance though, the water has “picked his bones in whispers” and becomes this overwhelming force that takes his life’s energy piece by piece. It drains and tears apart his body piece by piece. The water has become his fear, the fear of death. Water, a usual symbol for restoration has an alternative significance as well where an excessive amount could be damaging instead of restorative. The water is also supposed to be this symbolism of purity. This could be a representation of Phlebes having his own soul purified since there was a prediction of his specific death. In death, his soul or life could have redemption or it could simply mean nothing and becomes a pointless and careless death. ![Image Description] (http://41.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6humwmDm71rs2gnoo1_1280.jpg) "He passed the stages of his age and youth Entering the whirlpool." This is an interesting line since it could be interpreted many ways. For instance, there could be the idea that his life is being drained but so is his youth. So he is literally aging in the sea and growing weak. The River of Styx comes to mind since this could be a transfer from Earth to the Underworld. His forgetting what the crying of gulls and the other passing of the world could also mean that this "river" or this sea is passing time a quick rate for Phlebes physically and mentally
The river sweats Oil and tar The barges drift With the turning tide Red sails 270 Wide To leeward, swing on the heavy spar. The barges wash Drifting logs Down Greenwich reach 275 Past the Isle of Dogs. Weialala leia Wallala leialala Elizabeth and Leicester Beating oars 280 The stern was formed A gilded shell Red and gold The brisk swell Rippled both shores 285 South-west wind Carried down stream The peal of bells White towers Weialala leia 290 Wallala leialala
An adaptation of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, this two stanza diversion from the main body of ‘The Fire Sermon’, stages a juxtaposition between the current, depraved state of the Thames against its former condition. Form is central to defining this juxtaposition as the jolting first stanza, absent of rhyme conveys stagnation, in comparison to the more flowing, rhyming second. Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) is based on the Old Norse legend of Ragnarok. During Ragnarok, many of the major Gods would perish and the Earth would be submerged in water and eventually arise cleansed.
Largely, the first stanza signifies the change in the purpose of the river, and even its potential rendering as obsolete. The first line immediately points to its physical exhaustion, as it “sweats Oil and tar”, endowing the Thames with human, or at least animalistic qualities. This portrayal presents the river as entirely spent – unable to meet the demands of the rapidly modernising city around it, and therefore made redundant. This redundancy is apparent as Eliot suggests a change in course – of moving with the times. In particular, lines such as, “The barges drift/ with the turning tide” and “To leeward…” (A nautical term meaning ‘with the wind’), demonstrate this.
The second stanza points to the former majesty of the Thames. The functionless, drifting barges and logs, are replaced with royalty - “Elizabeth and Leicester” in their gilded ship – “red and gold”. In contrast to the directionless stagnation of the first, the Thames of the second stanza has a “brisk swell”. Considering the significance of Ragnarok, Eliot writes in these stanzas an apocalyptic vision of the Thames and its decline into a thinly veiled sewer, not only literal, but a sewer for the psychological waste of the city as well.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song. The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers, Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed. And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors; 180 Departed, have left no addresses.
Eliot repeats this first line throughout his depiction of the Wasteland. His reference to the river as “Sweet Thames” encapsulates his melancholy, elegiac depiction of the river that underpins much of the poem. The proceeding request for the river to “run softy, till I end my song”, is a proleptic image which implies he is copiously aware of the immanency in it ceasing to exist.
This sense of lifelessness is further evoked through the following lines, where both the speaker and the reader become increasingly aware of the river’s decaying life, and the city it runs through. Although it initially appears as an image of unpolluted positivity, Eliot envisages how the river “bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers”, an image that quickly transcends into Eliot’s discussion of objects of import. Silk and tobacco were imported products that, throughout 19th Century Britain, were likely to have been in high demand; whilst the cardboard boxes immediately conjure images of shipping and material exchange. Through this, Eliot envisages a river running dry of the industrial and material purpose that used to once define it.
Widely known as the world’s busiest port, London and the River Thames were leading figures of social progression throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Powerfully encapsulated by comments made by British MP John Burns in 1929, “The St Lawrence is water, the Mississippi is muddy water, but the Thames is liquid history”, Eliot depicts the river as losing the very fibres of the past that once characterized its existence. The river that occupies much of Eliot’s text is one that bears no evidence of the “summer nights”, thus contented human consumption, nor the nymphs who have “departed”.
Eliot’s employment of the nymphs draws strong parallels between his work and Edmund Spenser’s. As one of many incidences throughout “The Wasteland” in which Eliot adopts the words of classic works, here, Eliot quotes the refrain of Spenser's wedding-song in which nymphs figure as "lovely Daughters of the flood". Illustrated in the image below, the scene from Spenser’s work portrays the women as living off and around the rich, natural landscape and flowing river.
Eliot’s proceeding depiction that 'the nymphs have departed', clearly illustrates that there is no women, because there is no river. In constructing them to depart, Eliot immediately delivers the reader with a much bleaker reality of the river and the life that surrounds it - reverberating the concept of an empty, wasteland, modern day city; a lifelessness defined by the inactivity of the river.
The river sweats Oil and tar
This indented description appears to be a memory; possibly of the past life on the river? The oil and tar the river sweats is a sign of its robust action and production. If so, Eliot therefore switches the speaker between past and present, a temporal shift that is comparable to Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"
But at my back from time to time I hear The sound of horns and motors
Everyday life has grounded to a halt, and only every so often does he here noise of life. With this image proceeding the one about the "rattle of bones", Eliot seems to be steering towards the construction of a semi-apocalyptic world. Death everywhere and life nowhere.
Musing upon the king my brother’s wreck
Evokes an image of a desolate ship washed up in the river. Is Eliot playing on the dual meaning of the world wreck - as in a ship-wreck, and the wreck society is in?
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
Firstly, his reference to the river as "Sweet" implies his love for it. This sense of yearning for water over dry/barren/dusty landscape prevails throughout the poem. Secondly, the construction of the sentence almost implies that he is aware the water is going to stop running, but pleading with the river to continue until he finishes his song, thus the poem.
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Products of import/export? Silk and tobacco were two imported products that were of high demand in Britain (and most of the western world) in the 20's. The cardboard boxes again evoke that image of packaging/posting. Through this, is Eliot alluding to the role of the river as a prime medium of industry and civilization, that because of modern technology, is no longer needed and therefore dying?
The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf Clutch and sink into the wet bank.
Conveys a profound notion of the river's decaying existence. The "tent" infers a sense of a support/sheltered feature that no longer exists within it; whilst the leaves desperately "clutch" the water, before sinking into the wet ground. Maybe an image of the river drying up?
- Jun 2015
"Watercourses" means rivers, streams, brooks, waterways, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs and all other bodies of water, natural or artificial, vernal or intermittent, public or private, which are contained within, flow through or border upon this state or any portion thereof, not regulated pursuant to sections 22a-28 to 22a-35, inclusive.
Watercourse definition. Lakes and rivers on either public or private land.