In 2000 I was lucky enough to begin a degree in English at Oxford University. The Professor assigned to me was Jonathan Wordsworth, the premier scholar of the poetry of William Wordsworth, his own relative.
Wordsworth encouraged me to make a detailed study of the most complex and profound work of literature known to man, which had resisted all attempts at analysis.
The poem was called ‘The Waste Land’, by T.S. Eliot.
T.S. Eliot had clinched the highest status of any American writer in his lifetime, and was still a household name. His fame was associated with genius, although its glare had faded over time.
He became famous in 1922 for ‘The Waste Land’, the gold standard in intellectual rounds. It was known from its baffling array of references to other written works, from across time and cultures, woven together in a stylistic maze.
‘The Waste Land’ was a hit with a generation decimated by World War One, to whom its seemed to promise some hidden, sacred truth. Lenghty explanatory notes led researchers on an enquiry that focused on the legends of the Holy Grail. But no official answer was ever found. Instead, academic scholars had outlawed the search for meaning itself, adding a seal on its mystery with their official doctrine.
In the classroom, and on the kerb, there could be no bigger name author than T.S. Eliot. ‘The Waste Land’ – with its seeming incorporation of all literature before it – outdid its forerunners, and seemed to have put a reservation on the concept of a masterpiece.
At Professor Wordsworth’s encouragement, I was studying the manuscript of The Waste Land. It was discovered after T.S. Eliot’s death in 1965, and published as a scholarly book by his young widow. The official document showed the scrawled instructions of its editor, the infamous poet Ezra Pound, all over the messy cache of draft pages. Pound was the villain of American literature, who was imprisoned in an insane asylum by the U.S. government as punishment for his stagy political speeches for the Fascist side during World War Two, which had mired his significant literary reputation. Eliot’s connection to the raving anti-Semite had tarnished once enormous reputation in recent times, with allegations of the same toxic prejudice.
‘The Waste Land’ was dedicated to the American Fascist, whose scribbles put him in charge. That paradox only added to the dark mystery of the masterpiece, and its alluring manuscript.
Wordsworth recognised me as a pupil who might bring some conclusion to the stalemate. He provided me with the potential key to the poem, which had been a secret in the academic community for as long as memory.
The old man proposed that long ago a writer had interpreted The Waste Land’ as a love poem for a man, who died young. But Eliot had used a legal threat to have the article banned. The insinuation was that T.S. Eliot was homosexual.
At first this felt like an inappropriate, unbelievable conspiracy theory. But on a second glance I realised it really explained the incomprehensible outward appearance of ‘The Waste Land’. An instinct told me that it encoded T.S. Eliot’s romantic feelings in disguise because it was illegal to be homosexual in the past.
This sounded like something from a Hollywood movie. But it made T.S. Eliot a normal human, instead of a robotic mastermind. This could be the key to America’s masterpiece.
I set about investigating the web of references that laced the five part poem, sensing the spirit behind its construction. The task seemed to have fallen to me by ordination, and presented an opportunity to prove my place.
The article T.S. Eliot had banned was hidden inconspicuously amongst thousands of articles in rows of literary journals in the reference library, where I was able to discover it. It explosively explained ‘The Waste Land’ through the eyes of its main character, as a diary of his shattered romantic existence. But the evidence to prove its detailed discovery was not included. Instead, an afterword explained how T.S. Eliot had intervened in 1952, so it was unjustly banned for seventeen years. It was reprinted in 1969, after Eliot’s death, and even added the true identity of his boyfriend, who died in World War One. But incredibly, no mention of this huge discovery could be found amongst the mainstream writing on T.S. Eliot. Perhaps this was because at the end its author disavowed his historic detective work.
The only active trace of it now was on an amateur website that explored some of the references in ‘The Waste Land’. But its computer geek creator remained oblivious to the scale of the find.
I had to take stock. One of the greatest poems of all time apparently encoded its gay author’s romantic history. Fifty years had passed since the original discovery. But the world remained unaware of this amazing secret.
If it was true, ‘The Waste Land’ was one of the great landmarks of LGBT rights and history. It anticipated a shift in social attitudes, that was happening. But it seemed like something from a Hollywood fiction. As a literary discovery, it was obviously unprecedented.
The premise was that a love story was hidden in a great literary work, undiscovered for almost a hundred years. Now I found myself performing a role in a story that seemed to have a life of its own.
Before stepping further into this treacherous plot, I asked Professor Wordsworth how it could be that he knew about the article, and yet it wasn’t already famous? Wordsworth was silent for a long time before he answered, “There’s a conspiracy”.
Losing my trust in Wordsworth, but too far down the road he had opened to turn back now, I fulfilled the responsibilities of my Degree and wrote a paper showing the true meaning of The Waste Land. This project should have set me well ahead of my peers.
But when the examination results were published the paper received the dead average grade. As a result of this disappointment, the research was stopped in its tracks, and I pursued other paths.
However, after graduation from the university I revived the investigation of ‘The Waste Land’ full time, and the conspiracy Professor Wordsworth had informed on emerged. It was responsible for grading T.S. Eliot papers, which explained the unfair result.
The top Professors of T.S. Eliot’s poetry were involved in a cover up of T.S. Eliot’s homosexuality with his widow, who owned millions of pounds from the musical ‘Cats’. Their employment by Valerie Eliot was responsible for their positions as the official scholars, and was the key to a contest for inheritance of her fortune. I was a pawn in an academic intrigue.
T.S. Eliot’s widow Valerie Eliot was instrumental in the adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s book of cat poems to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1981. It became one of the most successful musicals of all time, grossing billions of dollars in profits. The copyright of the words belonged to Valerie Eliot.
She was originally T.S. Eliot’s secretary, whom he entrusted with the duties of looking after his work and legacy. Almost forty years his junior, the majority of her life was spent fulfilling her role. She performed the major tasks of scholarship herself and supervised others, down to the smallest detail, dictating the official narrative. She only broke from her fierce copyright restrictions in the case of ‘Cats’, which rewarded her devotion. She was now eighty years old, and had no children.
Loyalty to her wishes was of prime concern in the bequest of the Eliot estate. It was due to be administered by custodians of no family relation to her, linked to the publishing company she co-owned, Faber & Faber. They would continue the confidentiality of The Waste Land, which was the key to the inheritance, and the trademark of the company.
This had resulted in a strange situation. Instead of the truth of T.S. Eliot’s poetry coming out, now that Valerie Eliot was passing, when homosexuality was becoming a feted issue, the stakes were generating a more official cover up.
The wealth from ‘Cats’ had apparently put the news of T.S. Eliot’s homosexuality on mute in the recent times, despite the academic discovery. It presented the potential to jeopardise the bonanza. Its profits had allowed Valerie Eliot to buy 50% of Faber & Faber, which publishes an international literary elite, and implicated Britain’s establishment in a masquerade. T.S. Eliot helped create the company in the 1920s, to a trademark of poetry and literature somewhat ‘above’ the popular taste. Eliot is the nominal figurehead at top of the pyramid.
The first separate report of Wordsworth’s hint was the news that Christopher Ricks was making himself available to Valerie Eliot to take over the Eliot estate when she died. Ricks was the official scholar of T.S. Eliot’s poems, employed by Faber & Faber as their editor under Valerie Eliot’s watch. He had just been appointed to the prestigious position of Professor of Poetry at Oxford, which usually belonged to a poet. But Ricks had really arisen there because of his responsibility for an enormously important mistake.
It seemed that the prestige available was more important to Ricks than the true meaning of The Waste Land. His notes to Eliot’s poems were of unparalleled length and depth in respect of any poet, but he never mentioned the simple explanation. Now a potential motive suggested itself, in terms of a conflict of interest. But it was not a public matter, like the facts in his academic field.
“Valerie can buy anyone – with the money from ‘Cats’” was Jonathan Wordsworth’s casual response to the news. Wordsworth was playing the role of whistle blower, as the farce presented itself.
The unproven report was soon corroborated by a separate report that another Oxford Professor was actually taking over the Eliot estate, rather than Ricks. Craig Raine was a published poet, formerly employed by Faber & Faber, who had written the book ‘In Defence Of T.S. Eliot’. The information was supplied to me by the most recent winner of the Golden Globe for Best Director, Patrick Marber, whom Raine had told himself.
This meant the information was trustworthy. In fact I was able to speak to Raine about T.S. Eliot, and he revealed he already knew about the essay Eliot had banned. The occasion was the Cameron Macintosh Chair for Theatre, a lecture series sponsored by its theatre mogul namesake, whose first success was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats’, by coincidence. However, Raine’s prospectus with the Eliot estate was not a public matter, and was to remain secret for the next eight years.
It seemed that literature professors were already aware of the true meaning of The Waste Land, but they opposed the view, for reasons that were a private affair, and prestige that was very public. They were showing off about it in exclusive circles, so that the news of it reached me by incredible luck.
The positive in this was that I was free to explain the ‘The Waste Land’ at the age of only twenty-three, and debunk the platform of the world’s top professors. The LGBT testament vastly transcended their intentions. No one else seemed to have realised.
Before jumping in, I wrote to Faber & Faber about the issue of quoting T.S. Eliot’s poetry, about which I had heard they could be notoriously restrictive. “You cannot quote T.S. Eliot in your book”. The company replied with a blanket refusal that revealed its own compromised position, based on Eliot’s own decree that no one should annotate his poetry or set it to music – both of which they performed. Seeking clarification, the company then outright refused permission to quote in a book explaining ‘The Waste Land’, saying T.S. Eliot did not want his poetry ever to be explained. The company apparently took exception to the homosexual evidence I transparently disclosed to them, saying it “cannot be seen to endorse anything which could be deemed a misinterpretation of the work.”
Faber & Faber had made the biggest mistake it would be possible to make. They should have been excited to publish my book explaining ‘The Waste Land’. But instead, they snagged themselves in a position of censoring it, on grounds that intended to look reputable, but could not be more guaranteed to offend the public.
This only settled my mind up to go forward and write a book comprehensively explaining ‘The Waste Land’, in a methodical, forensic fashion – the book they opposed. Their literary and legal position was invalid. It justified itself through T.S. Eliot’s widow, ‘on behalf of the Eliot estate’, but I suspected it reflected the interests of her secret beneficiaries.
I had no choice except to write the book. While attempting to seek advice from Craig Raine, I realised he had made a mistake when grading my paper, after stumbling on evidence he was the marker. I brought this to Wordsworth’s attention, and he revealed that he had once been Raine’s Oxford tutor too. This explained how Wordsworth fitted into the picture, and how much he knew.
According to Wordsworth, Raine probably knew about the explanation of The Waste Land, but he had a “good reason” for not saying so, which was “money”. But Wordsworth was curiously ambivalent about the issue. He had persuaded me to study T.S. Eliot against my resistance, but abandoned me to the problem it opened up. Now I had to finish the task, in order to salvage my efforts, and myself, from the secret crime that had begun to swallow me up.
According to Wordsworth, his colleagues had missed the point about the classic of twentieth century literature, and they were doing so for financial reasons. He left it to me, perhaps because it implicated himself in a farce. But I still had to prove the matter.
Once I was fully embarked in writing the book, I learned more about the forces at play in the conundrum. One of Valerie Eliot’s longest friends offered to introduce me to her in her house. She still lived in T.S. Eliot’s flat in London. But Martin Owen, who ran T.S. Eliot’s Church Trust, told me she was suffering from dementia.
Sceptical of Faber & Faber’s principles of refusing permission to quote, I decided to look up the company’s financial accounts, which are published with Companies House. Their complex instruments revealed Valerie Eliot owned 50% of the publishing company, including 100% of Faber & Faber Limited, whose totality she had recently secured. This seemed to provide some explanation for the hazardous public relations stance of the company.
Valerie Eliot’s share was held in part through two shell companies based in the Cayman Islands, Set Copyrights Limited and Teaser Cat Limited. The latter consists of a single share, owned by an entity named Rumple Limited, linked to an address in London’s Theatre District. The two constituent parts fit together to spell the name of one of T.S. Eliot’s cats, Rumpleteazer, known for his feats of household burglary.
Valerie Eliot’s enormous wealth from ‘Cats’ had given her a 50% stake in Faber & Faber. Now the company opposed the explanation of T.S. Eliot’s poetry along the homosexual lines I had disclosed. She was in frail condition. I had to write the book to rescue the LGBT poetry from a company committed to a cover up.
Before finishing the task, Jonathan Wordsworth suffered a heart attack and died. Now I was alone in the untraceable story. But his obituary in the newspaper reminded me of the mysterious destiny that had guided me there, whose source was apparently divine.
Wordsworth had been present in my interview in 1999. He interrupted only once from a corner to disparage me. I left believing I had not been successful, but I received an acceptance letter. It was then that I realised that Wordsworth was responsible.
A few months later I was backpacking in Africa when I stayed in a mountain cottage, which was owned by a poor order of nuns. In the bookcase was an old novel about a teenager applying to study English at Oxford University. His conditions of romance with a girl also fit my circumstances, and I read the story as if it might provide confirmation of my own ambition to write books, the first of which would be my own, still unfolding teenage story.
In the final chapter, the main character goes for Oxford interviews, and meets a Professor who pulls the rug from beneath his pose, but than accepts him anyway. As I contemplated the familiar sequence, I began to perceive that the Professor in the fictional story was really Professor Wordsworth in disguise. This was not explicable by normal probability, or even the evidence of the book. But I had caught a glimpse of God’s fingerprint in that moment. I realise some mystical sequence was in motion, which was incommunicable.
Professor Wordsworth was officially retired when I arrived at Oxford to start my Degree. But half way through I overheard from a handful of students he taught that he had taught Martin Amis, the famous author of the book I had found. The information revived the mysterious possibility of whether he also interviewed Amis, and what that might mean.
Shortly afterwards our group were offered the opportunity to be taught by Wordsworth the following semester, which covered the Romantic poets, who included William Wordsworth. I raised my hand.
Wordsworth’s obituary included the information that he was rumoured to be the model for the Oxford interviewer in Amis’ first novel, in 1973. The scrap was a reminder of the glimpse of the divine that had illuminated my current path, whose unfinished investigation of ‘The Waste Land’ came at Wordsworth’s instigation.
The glimpse of Wordsworth in the novel was a just a clear sign of the legend within reality, which plays out in everyday lay, and which lay ahead for me. The legend doesn’t pause.
As I researched ‘The Waste Land’ in detail, I progressively realised it was more straightforward than I had originally imagined. The key to its every turn was T.S. Eliot’s personal life and the most everyday, homosexual line of analysis. A whole culture of forgotten LGBT tradition was buried in its maze of ‘allusions’, which chronicled Eliot’s personal life beneath the scholastic exterior.
But because everyone was looking in the other direction, no one had suspected such an easy thread of investigation. This angle contradicted the doctrine of the academic community that had taken possession of ‘The Waste Land’. As a result, I was able to plunder a treasure trove of findings, and take the spoils of the contest solo.
‘The Waste Land’ actually encoded T.S. Eliot’s romantic life, using lines from his reading material in which he found a parallel to his own situation, which he then wove into his own stylish verse. But to academics, it looked like an intellectual exercise, and they got lost in a diversion of their own ever-escalating invention.
T.S. Eliot had originally incited the misunderstanding himself, with his cryptic ‘Notes To The Waste Land’. The famous notes struck a scholastic pose, and invited investigation. But they gave directions along bogus lines, for a personal amusement. The Notes diverted enquirers away from the gay subject matter, and made enormously pretentious claims. Academics were only too willing to take the bait, and built a platform of unprecedented possibilities on the stunt. Eliot christened it a “remarkable exposition of bogus scholarship”, but it was too late to stop the landslide.
However, critics had performed such an amount of research over the years, I was able to use their accumulated scholarship to sift and sort the relevant from the rest, to complete the academic task that was long overdue. With their help, it was possible to complete the circuit along simple lines that demolished the intellectual fortress, and raised the LGBT flag, now that the tide of prejudice had receded.
Eliot had originally identified with the LGBT movement of his time. But he was conflicted by its prejudices. So he worked under the principle he was writing a new form of modern art, and he told himself this was separate from the feelings. ‘The Waste Land’ was finished under psychiatric care.
It was the seemingly irresolvable enigma of ‘The Waste Land’ that put Eliot on the cover of TIME magazine in 1950. The hyped mystery was associated with the Holy Grail, which Eliot’s notes had appeared to place at the core of the poem. But this was an extraneous theme, which appealed to readers who pondered it. Eliot’s profile for sublime genius was largely a fraud.
In the myth Eliot alluded to in the notes, a questing knight must survive a trial of virtue, in order to revive a land ravaged by famine or sickness, by winning the Holy Grail. Other themes in the notes included absurd ‘vegetation ceremonies’ performed by primitive religious sects, which often involved a sexual element.
The charade was almost exposed in 1952, by John Peter, the young South African academic who wrote the essay Professor Wordsworth directed me to fifty years later. But Eliot intervened to squash the essay before Peter could realise more. Peter complied, and went on to be a respected professor and novelist. He died suddenly in 1983, shortly after ‘Cats’ began its big run. Peter’s complicity gave rise to a cover up within the academic community, that spiralled after his death.
Before his death Eliot entrusted responsibility for his legacy to his young wife, who had governed its history ever since. For eight years as his secretary she was groomed for the role. She had dictated the official history of T.S. Eliot and interpretation of his major poems for decades, with the help of scholars. But now the time had come where I could finish the Job Peter abandoned, in the appropriate time.
Peter had picked up on one of Eliot’s clues in his literature column in order to solve the riddle of the famous opening line of ‘The Waste Land’, ‘April is the cruellest month’. Eliot had confessed to remembering a friend who waved lilacs, before his death in World War One. Poetry critics had hailed the line as a paradox. But Peter realised it really expressed Eliot’s misery over the death of his friend in April 1915. ‘April is the cruellest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land…’ The Waste Land begins. Lilacs were a symbol of gay love in the poetry of Walt Whitman, as Eliot and his friend knew. The dedication of Eliot’s first poetry book reveals the name of the friend was Jean Verdenal, as Peter revealed in his 1969 version. Eliot shared a flat with Verdenal when they were students. The Waste Land recounts Eliot’s unhappy life as a London Office worker, memorialising what might have been with Verdenal, as his conflicted spirit seeks an alternative to the attractions of this worldly plane.
A few lines later in the first Section we meet the ‘hyacinth girl’, whom Peter assumed to be Verdenal in disguise. But the hyacinth girl is really T.S. Eliot himself. An unidentified voice declares “they called me the hyacinth girl”. But hyacinths were a male symbol, and the word ‘Hyacinth’ was even notorious in homosexual circles as a term for a handsome youth. It derived from the Greek myth in which the beautiful Hyacinthus was loved by the god Apollo. This myth caused a big stir when it was used as formal evidence to convict the poet Oscar Wilde of ‘gross indecency’ in 1895, by his own hand. In ‘The Waste Land’, Eliot’s skill led readers to assume the voice in the romantic scene is a female’s. But actually the statement is transgender. Eliot was never caught.
Ezra Pound, who edited The Waste Land, scribbled the word ‘MARIANNE’ in capital letters beside these lines on the manuscript. His intention was probably to announce that he recognised the transgenderism in the love scene in an ambiguous way, on the private manuscript he was editing. ‘Marianne’ was one of the commonest words meaning gay before gay or homosexual were common. When the manuscript was made public in 1968, the eighty-five-year-old Pound sent scholars on a red herring, saying he could have been thinking of Tennyson’s poem ‘Mariana’. But as a note by Valerie Eliot acknowledges, no connection to Tennyson has been found.
The smoking-gun evidence is in a poem written by Pound as a companion to ‘The Waste Land’. In it, Pound explicitly reveals the gay key to the masterpiece. Called ‘Sage Homme’, his poem describes himself as the midwife who helped T.S. Eliot to give birth to his poems, which were fathered by the ‘Uranian muse’. Uranian was the mainstream term for the gay literary movement of the day. In Pound’s analogy, Eliot was unable to give birth to The Waste Land, because he was a man. How was the poem born? ‘On each Occasion/Ezra performed the caesarean operation’, the playful poem reveals. In response, Eliot asked for permission to publish these lines on the cover of The Waste Land. Eliot’s request in a published letter proves beyond doubt his own agreement about the ‘Uranian’ inspiration of his poetry. But at the time ‘Sage Homme’ was hidden, and instead Eliot dedicated ‘The Waste Land’ to Pound.
The final Section of ‘The Waste Land’ was written in Switzerland while Eliot received psychiatric treatment. This allowed him to release the whole thing in a stream of consciousness, which finishes with a confession of the magnitude and importance of the sex act between men. The avowal is expressed in ambiguous language, suitable to its subject matter. ‘My friend, blood shaking my heart/The awful daring of a moment’s surrender/Which an age of prudence can never retract/By this, and this only, we have existed/Which is not to be found in our obituaries’.
However, the sad and sacred avowal has remained unrevealed, under the official narrative of the Eliot estate and its academic confederates. Moreover, the passage goes on to prophesy that the secrecy of the vital act is to be preserved by a widow. It goes on, ‘…not to be found in our obituaries/Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider/Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor/In our empty rooms.’ One of Eliot’s careful notes reveals the ‘spider’ refers to a widow, who arranges the furniture of memory. With a spellbinding foresight, T.S. Eliot forecast the activities of his loving secretary. It might have been in bad taste to reveal the detail while she lived. Valerie Eliot wove a web of desired memories, that suspended a poet’s fairy-tale.
Such was the torment to which gay men were subject in Eliot’s era, That Eliot passed the burden of managing a secret to his young wife, which she honoured for forty years. She incubated a great LGBT testament, by the prophet of twentieth century poetry.
The final passage of lines in ‘The Waste Land’ are a collage of phrases in different languages, like a madman speaking in tongues. They have been treated as infinitely learned and ambiguous by scholars. But they really express T.S. Eliot’s soul in a handful of lines taken from different poems. Together they sum up his personal situation, whose themes are bereavement, transgender status, and religious conflict.
London bridge is falling down falling down
Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam uti chelidon – o swallow swallow
Le prince d’Aquitaine a la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then I’ll fit you. Hieronymo’s mad again.
Datta. Dayadham. Damyatta.
Shantih. Shantih. Shantih.
The intimidating gibberish is as close as anything that has been proposed to be the ultimate puzzle of the art world. But by looking up each phrase in its original context and piecing them together, a simple picture emerges, with very little need for explanation.
‘London bridge is falling down falling down’, continues, ‘My fair lady’.
‘And then he leapt in the fires that refine them’ is a line from Dante’s poem ‘Purgatory’, describing a penitent homosexual poet who chooses to be purified of his sins in holy flame.
‘When shall I be as the swallow’ comes from a classic Roman poem that celebrates sexuality, whose narrator has no partner. ‘When shall I be as the swallow, that I may cease to be silent?/When will my Spring come?’
‘O swallow swallow’ is sung by a man dressed as a woman in Tennyson’s poem ‘The Princess’.
‘The Prince of Aquitaine in the ruined tower’ comes from French poet Gerard de Nerval’s poem ‘The Outcast’. ‘I am the Dark Soul – the Widower – the Unconsoled/The Prince of Aquitaine in the ruined tower/My only star is dead’.
‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins’. This line was written by T.S. Eliot. The fragments refer to the phrases that are not by himself, that he has amassed.
‘Why then I’ll fit you. Hieronymo’s mad again’. In the play ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ (whose subtitle is ‘Hieronymo’s Mad Again’), the main character, Hieronymo, writes a play in different languages which he makes his enemies perform, so that he outwits them without them knowing. Just so, T.S. Eliot’s poem in different languages will bamboozle his readers.
Finally, the words in Sanskrit repeat the three spiritual avowals that had appeared in a passage just earlier. ‘Shantih’ is the Sanskit word for ‘peace’, ending ‘The Waste Land’ on a harmonious note.
T.S. Eliot had to express himself in this disguised form due to the criminalisation of homosexuality – which lasted until after his death. The cipher bamboozled critics and launched his unsurpassed status, under the cover of Ezra Pound’s ‘Modernist’ cause. This was a masterstroke, but it also involved an enormous level of fraud.
I was still only twenty-five, but I had solved the famous riddle of The Waste Land, along simple lines that were secret because they were gay. But along with this, I also accidentally resolved another big misunderstanding in America history. The life and stormy controversy of Ezra Pound.
Pound was another big name literary figure, whose poetry was more intellectual than popular. His life was mired in controversy. He was known to have collaborated with T.S. Eliot and launched the careers of several star-name authors, like James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway. He had also supported the Fascist side in World War Two and been imprisoned in a mental asylum by the U.S. government, without charge.
I now traced this unresolved contradiction from the past to Pound’s long hidden, master role in the creation of The Waste Land. From Idaho, Pound was known to be the figure at the centre of the ‘Modernist’ movement, exemplified by ‘The Waste Land’. He was the real mastermind behind the modern art identity that was given to Eliot, and anointed Eliot the star of the movement with his connections and influence.
Pound actually edited ‘The Waste Land’ from a hodge-podge of experimental drafts into the polished form as it was published. His role was long a secret. It was recognised when the manuscript was found and published after T.S. Eliot’s death, but the true nature of his role had never been revealed. This was partly because Pound kept T.S. Eliot’s secret to the last.
Pound knew Eliot was queer – or ‘Uranian’, in his own words – but this was kept under wraps, so it could be promoted under different terms, that were actually overhyped and counterfeit. It was Pound’s big project. ‘The Waste Land’ is dedicated to Pound, in gratitude. ‘For Ezra Pound, il miglior fabbro’, the dedication reads (literally ‘the better craftsman’, but perhaps understood as ‘the true master’). For years the tribute has mystified analysts.
Pound never received recognition. This explains why he went mad and achieved celebrity for his radio speeches from Fascist Italy that made himself hugely important and transmitted conspiracy theories that America was run by Jewish bankers. He was captured and imprisoned in an insane asylum in Washington, D.C. for twelve years, where he became a cause celebre. Pound was the man behind T.S. Eliot’s status, who perpetrated an unprecedented literary fraud.
Pound was even awarded America’s top poetry award from the Library of Congress, the inaugural Bollingen Prize for Poetry, in the insane asylum, by a panel of judges that included T.S. Eliot. The prize was cancelled due to public outrage, with Pound the only winner.
The missing manuscript that Pound edited includes cryptic scrawls like ‘Marianne’ that give away the gay key to the masterpiece. The original artefact belongs to New York Public Library. There its mystery remains overlooked, like something from a Nicholas Cage movie.
When the manuscript was published in book form in 1971, its editor was T.S. Eliot’s widow, who was also the copyright holder. Pound died in 1972. Valerie Eliot preserved the riddle into the twenty-first century.
A principle way that Valerie Eliot was able to keep the stalemate was her close inspection of official scholarship. With her copyright ownership and eventual ownership of Faber & Faber she was able to publish Eliot’s poems and the guidebooks to them. The prime example is ‘A Student’s Guide To The Selected Poems Of T.S. Eliot’. This is the classic guide to Eliot’s works, which has grown in length since its first appearance in 1968. It includes over a hundred pages of dense notes listing the ‘allusions’ in ‘The Waste Land’ alone. But the Guide really overwhelms the personal inspiration of ‘The Waste Land’ with extraneous scholarly information that embellishes the hoax Eliot triggered with his ‘Notes To The Waste Land’, and then lost control over. The selective information omits the gay evidence that actually explains ‘The Waste Land’, and instead builds up a imaginary proposition of unprecedented and laughable pretension. This attributes T.S. Eliot a superhuman genius that he was unable to relinquish. The Guide was useful in piecing together the riddle. It is still on sale.
As I studied the Guide, I realised it recorded an historic case, that contributed to human rights. The history of discrimination against LGBT people had resulted in a scholarly fiasco. But this had not yet been recognised, despite the celebrated status of LGBT rights in the 2000s.
A helpful comparison were the love sonnets of Michelangelo, the sixteenth century genius better known as the sculptor of ‘David’. His poems were addressed to a man, but the male pronouns were altered by his family members to pretend he was heterosexual, and only restored in the 1960s. In T.S. Eliot’s case, the subterfuge and disinformation were of a different order and nature, and also ongoing. The case really seemed to represent a defining one for LGBT issues.
As well as the clues on the manuscript, T.S. Eliot left numerous hints in his books and essays, which I was able to assemble as I combed his writings. They helped me to navigate and prove the overdue love story in ‘The Waste Land’, on the trail of the true Grail in the masterpiece.
I had completed the trail, and written the exhaustive book to prove the meaning of ‘The Waste Land’ beyond any shadow of meaningful dispute. Now I arranged a meeting with Craig Raine, to fill in the picture and perhaps receive his aid. Perhaps Raine had a gallant cause for having to remain mute about T.S. Eliot.
But I discovered Raine refuted T.S. Eliot was gay. This seemed to be a commitment of character, in relation to his investiture of the Eliot estate. He had just completed a book about T.S. Eliot’s poetry, which was dedicated to Valerie Eliot. The book made him the principal voice on T.S. Eliot’s poetry. But his responsibility for the Eliot estate was not officially revealed. His prospect was hitched to his denial of the gay discovery that was impending, which was shadow banned in his book.
As Eliot’s literary executor (a position he only revealed after Valerie Eliot’s death), Raine was responsible for the copyright refusals I had faced. His friends and connections included some of Britain’s leading authors, such as Ian McCewan and Julian Barnes, not to mention Faber & Faber’s network, and literary media which had ignored my appeals.
I brought the case to the attention of the press. But the gay aspect of the scandal did not warrant its exposure to the public. So it became a secret.
Arguably, the press colluded as the vanguard of an exclusive hierarchy, that ignored the public interest. Meanwhile, the secret gathered status and currency until times would change, and the whole thing would be exposed.
In 2010 Christopher Ricks, the Oxford Professor of Poetry who edited Eliot’s poems, was knighted by the British government for ‘services to scholarship’. This made the issue a matter of official government sponsorship.
I emailed Sir Christopher at his normal place of employment, Boston University, and he readily admitted his error. The soup had got too hot for ‘the world’s most distinguished scholar’.
Ricks had been friends with John Peter, the South African critic whose essay half-solved ‘The Waste Land’ in 1952. Now Ricks was hailed as the judge and genius of poetry, in the top position in the world. But he was wrong about its most important landmark, as he admitted. His need to hide his mistake had led him to a much more serious risk of trespass.
“I respected John Peter”, he now remembered. “I met him on only a couple of occasions and liked his company. I agreed with him about very little except the unignorable centrality of the matters that he raised.” But Ricks had never made the unignorably central matters in ‘The Waste Land’ known.
Instead, Sir Christopher is the top official scholar of T.S. Eliot’s poetry, with the highest scholarly aplomb in the world. But he had fallen into error, as part of the Eliot camp. It had made Sir Christopher a fraud, a fact he was uncomfortable with. Sir Christopher is co-Editor of the Essays In Criticism journal where Peter’s historic essay was reprinted in 1969, and remains little known.
Afterwards Sir Christopher went back to the business of co-Editing ‘The Poems Of T.S. Eliot’, with hundreds of pages of scholarly notes that perform a hair-splitting sideshow. The landmark edition of T.S. Eliot’s verse was published by Faber & Faber in 2015.
Also in 2010, Craig Raine gained notoriety with his first novel, that drew attention to T.S. Eliot’s unsolved case. Its strange and repellent story was conceived under the influence of Eliot’s privilege, and Ezra Pound’s fraud. Its unpopularity brought Raine the attention he couldn’t achieve as a genuine novelist. ‘Heartbreak’ provoked such an outpouring of hostile reviews that it made the news pages. But the background facts escaped detection.
In 2011 the fraud escalated, this time under Apple’s custody. Faber & Faber released ‘The Waste Land App’, a digital version of the poem, with new explanatory notes and the manuscript edited by Pound. But the notes sustained an historic diversion. It rocketed to number one in the Apple Store.
Nevertheless, I found myself trapped in a matrix of T.S. Eliot’s making. I had to figure out my place in this equation, to explain it to the world.
I had represented the facts I saw in ‘The Waste Land’, that revealed an injustice from the past. But T.S. Eliot, it emerged, was not a campaigner against that injustice. This meant that he was not a natural hero for the LGBT community.
In fact, T.S. Eliot denied he was gay, and adopted values that were hostile to same-sex relationships, at least in public. He had become a figure of the English class system, and its principles. This was embodied in ‘The Waste Land’, in which he expressed his feelings in a riddle that gained him an immortal reputation. He organised for the truth to be hidden after his death, so that it was propped up by his entourage, backed by the wealth from ‘Cats’. It was this obstacle that I had run into, resulting in an ordeal.
It was easy and also correct to ascribe this to the prejudices T.S. Eliot had faced. The problem demonstrated the travesty of the past. But now I faced the homophobia of the present, and the Eliot estate on the other side.
The result of this was that I was in a predicament. The path I had followed had swallowed me up, and cancelled my existence from understanding. It seemed that even though I was straight, I had stood up for LGBT rights, but T.S. Eliot was the true adversary with whom I was battling, for the status of love in western culture.
T.S. Eliot’s riddle replaced love with a standard of exclusive membership, maintained by those who subscribed to the club, who were higher up than I was.
As I contemplated how I got here, and whether I would ever emerge, I became aware of a deeper significance to the extraordinary circumstances. I realised this went beyond literature, or gay rights, and was of religious significance.
It was at this time that I realised the ordeal that I had found myself in was connected to the Harry Potter stories, by J.K. Rowling. I became aware of a dimension that was not of this world.
These books about a boy wizard at a boarding school that had become a social phenomenon actually faintly traced a real life situation, that I was still in the process of going through, in relation to T.S. Eliot. This was not the whole theme of the books, but it was still true.
In the books Harry Potter has to face down a dark sorcerer named Lord Voldemort with whom he shares a certain mental link, but who wants to rule Britain by a creed of blood hierarchy, helped by a conspiracy of followers who share that creed. I recognised this fable in the real life situation around Britain’s national poet, originally from America, who had set a standard with the anti-Semite Ezra Pound which high-up members of an entourage were preserving. Harry Potter, meanwhile in the books, ultimately defeats Voldemort with love and common friendship, which survive Lord Voldemort’s complex spells.
I recognised my life’s path since leaving an exclusive boarding school near Oxford, and meeting Professor Wordsworth, who had pitted me against the controversial genius of the poetry world, T.S. Eliot, and the colleagues who surrounded him. Lord Voldemort’s real name, Tom Riddle, even chimed with Tom Eliot.
J.K. Rowling, the English author of the books, was hit by the idea on a train in 1990. I realised that I had always known we were connected, and there were other coincidences. Harry Potter was still being released in cinemas while I read the series in 2011.
I imagined a connection existed, but this did not make my story any easier to tell or believe. It merely opened a window of wonder on a divine dimension that we all belong to.
Perhaps this had something to do with LGBT rights, which were still a divisive issue, particularly in the Church. It restored my faith that it would all be recognised.
In a sense, Voldemort is real: the ghostly poet and standard-bearer of a lie T.S. Eliot. A spell had been cast which wove together our destinies.
In fact J.K. Rowling went on to set her first book after Harry Potter, ‘The Casual Vacancy’, in the same geographical location as the village in Somerset where T.S. Eliot is buried. Its plotline bears similarities with events that took place in the real village just before its release, when villagers disputed the construction of a housing development. But Rowling does not seem to realise her channelling.
This made me realise the religious purpose of my path, and have faith in the outcome. T.S. Eliot was a deeply Christian author, converting after the waste land brought him global fame. His ashes are interred beneath the church floor in the village of East Coker.
Valerie Eliot died in 2012, marking an era’s end. Her ashes were interred beside Eliot’s in the church.
Years passed, in which the revelation of T.S. Eliot’s poetry never emerged. I was stranded in a faraway corner of the world, in a state of expectancy and comfort.
In 2015, the legalisation of gay marriage in America marked a step forward for culture.
Finally events combined to lead me back down the course I had come, on a return.
In 2019, serendipitously, ‘Cats’ was released as a Hollywood film, opening a spotlight. Its cast included a host of LGBT activists, including Taylor Swift and James Corden, that reflected the standards of a changed society.
The values of society and its cast were incompatible with the cover up of its lyricists’ verse. The movie bombed spectacularly, triggering a backlash. But the perennial charade in the background escaped discovery.
During its disastrous release, T.S. Eliot’s long-anticipated letters to his supposed mistress Emily Hale were released, after fifty years under seal. They were supposed to reveal a love affair, comprising ‘the literary event of the decade’. But a note by Eliot revealed no romantic relationship ever existed, flummoxing reporters with the empty turn. She was really T.S. Eliot’s cover story, not his cover girl. This was Eliot’s last card.
But still the creator of ‘Macavity: The Mystery Cat’ – the cat who always escapes discovery for his crimes, in the musical – was not revealed.
When every avenue seemed blocked, a pandemic struck the world, suspending time while I processed the prophecy. It heralded an awakening.
Time eventually resolved the dilemma. It delivered an LGBT milestone to a society that was most disposed to the news. My journey was at an end.
The mysterious sign that I had followed in the book I found in the African cottage had fulfilled its promise, and revealed its end. I had become the author of my own story, which I had perceived was my way. It had absorbed me into a legend that was beyond my own reward.
The homework that Professor Wordsworth had assigned to me was ready to be handed in, a lifetime later, with the keys to a national treasure. The puzzling masterpiece of American verse comprised mankind’s purpose. To love.
The simple answer restored the most complex work of art to all of humankind, and disproved the system of hierarchy conceived by man.
The testament was a gift to the world, which would stand as a record of wrongful discrimination for the rest of time.
But the greater message is in the story itself, which reveals our living world. It attests to the God who was present from the start. The story was reset in a new Millennium.
I had become the hero of the maze, like the knights and heroes of fiction and fables through time. I was the knight of ‘The Waste Land’, who has to pass a trial of virtue to win the treasure that can redeem a land ravaged by sickness.
I had finished T.S. Eliot’s challenge, and found the true reward. The Holy Grail.