A notoriously complex poem, full of esoteric allusions and references, it has by no means been universally acclaimed by critics or the reading public. However, it is generally accepted as one of the most significant poems of the 20th century.
It consists of five parts, whose titles are The Burial of the Dead; A Game of Chess; The Fire Sermon; Death by Water and What the Thunder Said.
The lines recited by Anthony Blanche are taken from The Fire Sermon.
Harold Acton, on whom the character Anthony Blanche is said to be partly based, did on one occasion lean out of his window at Christ Church and recite The Waste Land through a megaphone.