For Vincent Blasi
Il miglior fabbro.

Editorial Note: Although it has long been thought that all Eliot’s drafts of The Waste Land had survived, the version below has not previously been known. There are good reasons to think it was an early draft, probably not sent to Pound. The verse is often crude and clumsy, and markings on the manuscript suggest Eliot’s extreme dissatisfaction with it: in places, there are signs (tooth marks and the like) of attempts to chew and swallow it. Given the primitive quality of many of the lines, the principal interest of the fragments below must lie in Eliot’s having foreseen later events. His prescience is simply uncanny.

1. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Viruses out of the crowded streets, mixing
People showing no symptoms, stirring
Lockdown syndrome with spring fever.
Winter kept us warm, confining
New Yorkers to their apartments, keeping
A little life without social contact.
Summer surprised us, yielding no letup
Instead a shower of cases. We stole out
And went on in sunlight, into Riverside Park
And drank bottled water, spent an hour talking.
“Bin gar kein Engländer, stamm’ aus Deutschland, echt Drumpf.”
“And when I was beginning my modelling career,
Working part-time at the massage parlor, he took me out
And I was frightened. He said ‘Melania,
Melania, hold on tight.’ And up he came.”
“At Mar-a-lago, there you feel free.
I watch Fox, much of the night, and play golf on the weekends.”

(Come in under the shadow of this emergency tent)
And I will show you something different from either
The doctor behind you without protective equipment
Or the maskless stranger, striding to meet you;
I will show you fear in a FedEx package.

Anthony Fauci, famous clairvoyant,
Had a nagging cough, nevertheless
Is known to be the ablest man in America,
With a wicked set of models. Here, said he,
Is the latest hotspot, and one of its victims
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Cincinatti, though Ohio’s governor
Seemed to be master of the situation,
He is undone by three new outbreaks.
Here’s San Diego, but there the data
Do not permit me to see the likely trajectory.
Though climate change affects
The future of Miami, citizens should not fear
Death by water. COVID is far more deadly.
I see crowds of people, queuing to cast their votes.
Thank you. If you should see dear Deborah,
Tell her I do the algebra myself.
One must be so careful these days.

2. A Jigsaw Puzzle

“What shall I do now? What shall I do?”
“I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
Without a mask on, so. What shall we do tomorrow?”
“What shall we ever do?”
Six hours of internet.
And if it rains, we’ll order groceries.
And we shall do a jigsaw puzzle,
Keeping our distance, waiting for a knock upon the door.

When Boris got out of hospital, I said—
Carrie, I said, I didn’t mince my words,
Now he’s coming back, he’ll want a good time
After all he’s been through. A slap and a tickle,
He’d like some domestic hanky-panky,
And if you don’t give it him, there’s others will, I said.
Oh is there, she said. Something o’ that, I said.
Then I’ll know who to thank, she said, and raised her frypan.
If you don’t like it you can get on with it, I said.
But if Boris makes off, it won’t be for lack of telling.
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so puffy.
(And her only thirty-two.)
I can’t help it, she said, patting her round belly,
It’s not easy being pregnant, you know that.
The doctor said it would all be smooth, but I’m not myself.
You are a proper fool, I said.
Well, if Boris won’t leave you alone, there it is, I said,
What you co-habit for if you don’t want children?
Well, that Tuesday they had budget talks – a lot of gammon! –
And they asked me to join them, to get the news fresh and hot—
Goonight Dominic. Goonight Andrea. Goonight Priti. Goonight.
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.

(Editorial note: Nothing from Part 3 has yet proved decipherable.)

4. Business Under Water

Jared, the wheeler-dealer, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the money-laundering and the carried interest
And the profit and the loss.
A rumor on Fifth Avenue
Picked at his reputation. As his status fell
He passed the stages of his father’s life
Classed as a former felon.
Gentile or Jew
O you with your secret smiles and tailored suits
Consider Jared who was once proud and successful as you.

5. What the … (Editorial note: The rest of the title and most of this section is unreadable.)

Falling towers
Wuhan, Milan, Barcelona
London, New York
All too real

I sat in the Rose Garden
Fiddling, with the White House shuttered behind me
Shall I at least set my campaign in order?
Brooklyn Bridge is falling down falling down falling down
le mani alzò con amendue le fiche,
gridando: “Togli, Dio, ch’a te le squadro!
Le grand Président à la peste abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Donald’s made great againe.
Data! Depressing data! But my ratings!
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