Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain

from T.S. Eliot – The Waste Land on Rap Genius


A tangle of paradoxes. Ganga is a river, so things are normally sunken in it. But “sunken” here means “at a lower level”, so that the level of the water has fallen from drought. Leaves can go limp when they’re very dry or when they’ve just been rained on, but the ‘l’ alliteration sounds suspiciously liquid to me.

And then Eliot hits us with this shocker after the line-break: “Waited for rain”. So the paradox is explicitly cleared up, but it lingers in the first line which refuses to fall into … um … line.

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