The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard.

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

Meaning

These lines recall the wasting of the land encountered by the questing knight in the medieval grail romances.

In Chrétien’ de Troyes' Perceval, written between 1181 and 1191, the questing knight-Perceval- fails to inquire into the mystery sourounding the King’s ailment. By remaining silent concerning the state of the king, his wounding, and the wasting of the realm, as well as refusing to speak when confronted with the sacral artifacts he beholds at the pinnacle of his quest: a bleeding lance and candelabra; Perceval fails to reverse the wasting of the land which was brought about by the wounding of the king. Likewise, Perceval is unable to aid/heal the King and for this failure he is admonished by a mysterious female figure who appears in the court shortly after he returns.

Her appearance is specifically to chastise Perceval. She notes, in her trouncing of the knight, that by failing to ask his host

“whom the grail served and why the lance he beheld bled.”

Perceval failed his king. Whereas, the appropriate question would have healed The Fisher King who’s wounds to his vital areas (genitals/groin) deprive him of his ability to act as the literal head of his realm as outlined by the feudal principle:

“regis corpus qua est vita regnum"
Literally:

“The king’s body which is the vitality of his domain”

Thus, the wasting of the land is a direct corollary of the progenitive deficiency of its sovereign and the failure of Perceval in his quest.

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