T. S. Eliot is one of the greatest poets in the American history, and The Waste Land is a long poem that the critics are calling one of the most important, influential and profound poems of the previous century. It was first published back in 1922 and consisted of 434 lines. The story loosely resembles the legend of the Holy Grail mixed with the ups and down of the then-contemporary British folks.
The poem contains numerous cultural and literary references and allusions from Buddhism and other religions. That's why many critics call it obscure. Overall, there are several different voices, both prophetical and satirical, and the changes of the speaker and/or time are never announced, which gives the book quite a unique feeling.
Furthermore, the readers get to familiarize themselves with many cultures, nations, religions and literatures. The poem itself is comprised of 5 separate chapters. The first chapter is all about despair, grief and disappointment. The second chapter focuses on several characters at once and constantly alternates the "speaker". The third section is some sort of a philosophical meditation on life, death, self-denial and other fundamental themes from eastern religions.
The fourth chapter is pretty small, while the final, fifth section puts the finishing strokes on this masterpiece-of-a-poem. The Waste Land is, most certainly, a legendary poem that's forever engraved on the literary pedestal. T. S. Eliot created a complex, thought-provoking, thrilling book that addresses the most important questions for any nation, religion, century and generation.