We ended last week with a confession. Lil had to take some shoddy pills to help her deal with an unwanted pregnancy after her youngest child almost killed her. She hasn’t been the same since.
Again this quote is taken as is in the poem, I didn’t make a mistake when I wrote this down. Clearly, Eliot is trying to show that these women are uneducated. That these are problems of the lower dregs of society, the ones who are creating the waste land (remember that the central theme of this poem is the loss of culture and the dumbing down of English society).
I know of a woman who had 18 children. Basically, she was pregnant throughout her fertile life. She was lucky because 15 of them lived. That is quite rare for the time (this was the early 1900s). Can you imagine how difficult it must have been? How hard for her body to be always in that state? In my experience as an archaeologist, I have done many digs in catholic cemeteries in Quebec. The most emotional part of these digs was finding the children’s section. In this part of the cemetery, barely born infants were buried in consecrated land, whether or not they had been baptized. There were so many, their little bones attesting to how difficult life was back then. How many parents had their hearts broken because their littles did not survive?
I used a love letter that I had in my stash to convey the dilemma these women found themselves in: they loved their husband, they wanted to be with them…but with no birth control they found themselves in precarious economic or sanitary situations. The letter reads ‘I miss you so much I long to hold you tight in my arms and feel you touching me.’
Although the bride looks hopeful, her friend seems quite skeptical. Perhaps she knows something about what is coming.