And we shall play a game of chess

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

Meaning

The “Game of Chess” is an allusion to two plays by Elizabethan dramatist Thomas Middleton: Women Beware Women and A Game at Chesse

Both plays contain a rape (in keeping with the allusive motif of this section of Eliot’s poem)

In Women Beware Women Liva, the henchwoman of the Duke, engages the stepmother of Bianca—the Duke’s sexual target—in a game of chess. While she is distracted the Duke enters Bianca’s chambers and plays a game of his own. Middleton brilliantly uses the moves in the chess game and the dialogue of the two chess players to describe the rape occurring upstairs and the moves in the chess match simultaneously.

To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot and leave a comment on the lyrics box