The New Criticism school, which emerged on the eve of World War I, was anti-positivist: they were against studying art based on the laws of nature. They argued that in the natural sciences, nature and man are considered as two separate realities; in this case, the soulless nature, which has no conscious purpose, is the main object for the researcher. However, the main object of research in the humanities, especially in literature, is man. That is why literary criticism should focus on the literary/artistic text itself. It was for this reason that Eliot attacked Impressionist critics, engaging in controversy with those who believed everything to consist purely of impressions. According to Eliot and his like-minded colleagues, presenting a literary text only as a manifestation of the artist’s psychology, as an impression, is an incomplete approach, since no text can exist outside the great literary tradition, outside the characteristic features of forms and genres that have developed over the centuries.
In American literary criticism, Joel Spingarn was at the forefront of those who defined the methodological foundations of the New Criticism. Spingarn paved the way for the “New Criticism” by reinterpreting the ideas of the Italian thinker Benedetto Croce. Spingarn thought that Impressionist criticism was flawed, because a critic using this method focused on his impression, thereby studying not the work itself but his own mood, his own state of mind.
The English philosopher and literary critic Thomas Hulme is considered to be the main ideologist of the New Criticism school, modernist poetry in general, and imagism. Thomas Hulme was of the opinion that his namesake Thomas Stearns Eliot would later share: after the precocious turmoil of romanticism, the era of classicism must return. According to the scientist, the Romantics “gifted” man with endless spiritual and intellectual possibilities, which is not consistent with reality and distorts our perception of the world. In his opinion, poetic inspiration is nothing and what we need is intellectual poetry that is an expression of the inner world formed by the rational laws. Hulme appreciated such aspects of artistic creativity as brevity, accurate description and clarity. This idea of Hulme’s greatly influenced Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot.
T.S. Eliot presented himself as a classicist in literature, a monarchist in politics, and an English Catholic in religion. The poet saw the main purpose of his work in the restoration of Christian ideals, in reflections on ethical problems. Eliot wrote a scholarly work on the English philosopher Bradley and believed in his objective idealism based on the unity of thought and feeling. According to Eliot, the unity of feeling and thought, ethics and aesthetics, Greco-Roman culture and Christian legacy essentially existed only in the Middle Ages. When the absolute faith in the authority of God disappeared, this unity was broken. According to Eliot, from the point of view of belief in ethical values, the world has gone backwards, not forwards, so, to use an oxymoron, the world must move forward—to the Middle Ages. Therefore, Eliot regarded the metaphysical poets—John Donne, John Dryden—as well as Dante and Shakespeare, as his literary ancestors.
The key concepts of Eliot’s poetics are: dynamic tradition, dissociation of sensibility, impersonal poetry and objective correlative.
Eliot laid out the concept of dynamic tradition in his famous essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” According to Eliot, the concept of tradition has hitherto been understood as fixed, stable, unchanging; whereas if tradition does not change on the one hand, it is in motion on the other. Thus, each new work added to the tradition changes, renews its fixed order, that is, the tradition is also dynamic.
Referring with the concept of dissociation of sensibility to the creative experience of the metaphysical poets, Eliot writes that in the Middle Ages our perception of the world was holistic, and it was a material-spiritual unity. Everything was harmonious: we could understand the feeling, and we could feel the thought. From the 17th century onwards, this harmony began to disintegrate. We lost that unity for the sake of social progress. According to Eliot, the cost of the Renaissance, of humanism, was the loss of material-spiritual and intellectual-sensuous unity and integrity. Eliot considered Dante, who reflected this unity of intellect and sensibility in his work, to be the greatest poet.
Eliot’s most studied genre, the genre he wanted to revive and actualize in the twentieth century was drama in verse. The poet suggests that in order to create an adequate expression of emotions in the text, it is necessary to refrain from talking about facts, but simply to describe them. To achieve this, Eliot formulated two interlinked concepts: impersonal poetry and objective correlative.
Regarding impersonal poetry, Eliot wrote that the poet should not convey his personal feelings to the reader in a direct, overt, bare form, keeping his own personality in the background, that is, depersonalized. In most of his poems, Eliot speaks from behind the masks of different characters.
Objective correlative. In a comprehensive analysis of the work of French symbolists, especially Laforgue and Mallarmé, Eliot formulated the concept of “objective correlative.” Mallarmé said that poetry is written with words, not ideas; that is, the idea of the text must be expressed not directly, not by naming the object, but with adequate symbols associated with it, and when the expression is direct, more than half of the effect is lost. The concept of “objective correlative”, which has many complex overtones, can be expressed in the simplest way: as the name suggests, this concept is a technique for creating an atmosphere through an object, an entity, a thing. This haiku of the prominent 18th-century Japanese poet Buson is usually cited as an example of “objective correlative”:
The piercing chill I feel:
my dead wife’s comb, in our bedroom,
under my heel…
In this haiku, the general, intangible, so to speak, materially unimaginable idea of “the piercing chill I feel” in the first line is presented in the following lines through a specific space (bedroom), a specific objective (material) correlative (the comb under the heel). One detail, a masterfully applied asymmetry technique illustrates the topsy-turvy world of a man who has lost his wife—with the comb that once was on the woman’s head, in her hair (up) being now underfoot (down). Thus, the idea becomes material, the feeling of loss does not remain abstract, it becomes concrete.
Commentary on the poem “The Waste Land”
Since ancient times, mnemonic strategies that served to preserve memory—rhyme, or standard patterns of expression—have been very important in the art of poetry. Rhyme or standard patterns of expression were considered functional for transferring culture from one generation to another. This was the purpose at the root of the passing of epics and folk literature, learnt by heart, on to future generations by word of mouth. For example, each of the designations in Homer’s epics, such as “ruler”, “swift”, “owl-eyed”, was associated with the name of a particular character; the narrator, the ashug memorized them by repeating them over and over again, almost like a student learning the multiplication table, and when forgetting a name, it could be recalled by pulling the character’s designation out of the memory. Say, the narrator knew that wherever Athena’s name was mentioned, her designation was “owl-eyed”, so that artistic information was passed on to the next generation with minimal loss.
In the twentieth century, representatives of aesthetic modernism saw that the reality, increasingly complicated, crawling into chaos, slipping through the fingers like sand, like water, could not be expressed by old methods. According to them, the maximalism of a perfect “mountain-fountain” type rhyme no longer fit the spirit of the age. Many literary methods have been “worn off” and lost their power. We are not talking here about the local rejection of rhymed verse, but about alternatives in keeping with the spirit of the age: let’s not forget that there were also poets who introduced reforms in the traditional patterns. Thus, modernists such as Ezra Pound and Thomas Stearns Eliot offered an associative method to poets who turned into rhyming robots: instead of “mountain-fountain”, the poet is to choose pictures, images, words that will create the impression of a mountain in the reader’s mind. Instead of absolute, perfect rhymes, the modernists brought to the fore more tentative verb rhymes, similarities of sound at the end of lines, that is, freer, looser verse—vers libre. Although the roots of vers libre can be found in the classical forms of blank verse, in the works of Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and especially Whitman, the truth is that vers libre was first developed on comprehensive, theoretical foundations, and at the same time with the demands of the time became more widespread in the twentieth century. In the twentieth century, the modernists introduced serious innovations in the constitution of poetry, exempting poets from the “rhyme tax”.
The modernists also preferred the mythopoetic method in both poetry (Eliot) and prose (Joyce). To them, myth is a familiar version of the chaotic uncertainty found in classical texts. Roughly speaking, if reality is fragmented and out of reach, it can only be put together with the glue of myth.
T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”, considered one of the pinnacles of modernist poetry, has been compared to James Joyce’s Ulysses. Both describe the psychological geography of a city (London and Dublin, respectively). Both turn to myths, which were once considered absolute truth and are now useful as structures, to put in order the twentieth-century man’s world that is in a state of spiritual barrenness, spiritual drought, chaos, and disorder. Both authors believe that no text is able to express itself on its own, so they include commentary and notes as part of the literary text.
There are two approaches to “The Waste Land”: some see it as a covert autobiography, while others see it as a reaction to the post-WWI world.
At the beginning of “The Waste Land”, written in 1922 and consisting of five parts, there is an epigraph from Petronius’s Satyricon and a dedication. The quote is about the mythological character Sibyl; the dedication is to the great poet Ezra Pound, who made an exceptional contribution to the editing of the poem, with the caption that reads “il miglior fabbro“—”to the better craftsman”.
Eliot deliberately, purposefully quotes a passage in a dead language (Latin) in the epigraph in order to prepare the reader from the very start for the spirit of the modern world—barren, arid, torn between life and death, out of its mind. Moreover, the quote from The Satyricon tells of the mythological character Sibyl, who became an old, crippled, wrinkled creature because she forgot to wish for eternal youth when she wished for eternal life, and, being the size of a locust, had to live in a jar. Eliot quotes not from Sibyl’s youth, when she was an oracle, but from the time when she lost her humanity. Passers-by make fun of Sibyl, asking her what her biggest dream is, and she gives the same answer to everyone: “I want to die.” With this telling quote at the beginning of the poem, Eliot highlight the mood of Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. After World War I, people, like Sibyl, were gripped by despair and melancholy that seemed to last forever. Eliot captures the face of the present world reflected as if in the mirror in the ancient character who once foretold the unseen and is now powerless to die, drawing an allegorical analogy between the past and the present. For Eliot, Sibyl is a prototype of departure from religion and spirituality that says that life does not end with death and calls to see life in death instead.
The original draft of the poem had a different epigraph, a quote from Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, which Eliot removed on Ezra Pound’s advice.
After Eliot’s death, his second wife, Valerie, discovered that the working title of “The Waste Land” was “He Do the Police in Different Voices.” This abandoned title is in intertextual connection with another book. According to Eliotists, it’s a reference to Sloppy, a character in Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, who reads the police chronicles from the newspapers, enlivening the performance by imagining and impersonating each of the police officers quoted in the articles—in distinctive voices, with individual accents. Experts agree that Eliot, who liked speaking from behind different masks, deliberately made this reference, hinting at the technique he used, but at Pound’s insistence, he chose instead “The Waste Land” as the title, which is more in tune with the essence of the poem.
Eliot and Pound met and became friends in London in 1914. Eliot gave Pound his poem to read after it was finished. All literary critics today agree that Pound had an exceptional merit in the success of the poem. Therefore, as a token of gratitude to the master, Eliot dedicated the poem to Pound with the note “Il miglior fabbro” (“to the better craftsman”); so that there is a reference in this dedication, too, since the Italian expression is a quote from line 117 of Canto XXVI of Dante’s Purgatorio:
“O brother,” said he, “he whom I point out,”
And here he pointed at a spirit in front,
“Was of the mother tongue a better smith.”
With the dedication, Eliot pays tribute to Pound’s craftsmanship, emphasizes his in-between migrant position in purgatory, and prepares the sober reader for entering a modern hell that will soon be described with the Dante reference.
The title of the first part of the poem, “The Burial of the Dead”, is taken from the English Book of Common Prayer. There are four characters in this part, each with a different point of view. The first is an autobiographical snippet from the childhood of an aristocratic woman, in which she recalls sledding with her cousins and claims that she is German, not Russian. This character, named Marie, who says she reads a lot at night, talks about the spiritual barren state of the modern world through symbolic, esoteric meditation on the seasons. This woman is Countess Marie Larisch, whom Eliot met in 1911 when he went to Munich to learn German. In fact, although the poet himself does not appear in this part, there is another person whose memory is included here. An autobiographical bit is hidden in this snippet in the “lilacs mixing memory and desire”. It is about Eliot’s French friend Jean Verdenal, who died in the war in 1915—the very same Verdenal to whose memory Eliot dedicated the book Prufrock and Other Observations. After Verdenal’s death Eliot writes about their last meeting in Paris: “I am willing to admit that my own retrospect is touched by a sentimental sunset, the memory of a friend coming across the Luxembourg Gardens in the late afternoon, waving a branch of lilac, a friend who was later (so far as I could find out) to be mixed with the mud of Gallipoli.”
Eliot baffles the reader with the contrast in the first lines of the poem: April, the embodiment of the awakening, revival of nature, is presented in the poem as the cruellest month, and thus we step into an inverted world, a world turned upside down. Let’s look at the alternation of motifs, at their contrast with each other: the transition from the motif of the dead in the title to the cruel April, which ends with lilacs from the dead land and revives the dead roots with the spring rain… April is cruel because it brings back to life the things covered by winter snow (condemned to oblivion).
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
The first verse is a reference to the beginning of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, turning Chaucer’s description of the natural order inside out:
When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all…
Eliot also expresses the violation of the world order both in the structure and in the grammar of the stanza. Thus, caesuras—rhythmic pauses that divide the stanza into several parts—as well as enjambments—carrying the meaning over from one poetic line to the next, without completing it in the first one—and Whitmanlike suffix half-rhymes (breeding, mixing, stirring) instead of perfect root rhymes give a stylistic solution to the essence. Lines 8-11 in the first stanza are among the longest parts of the poem, consisting of 14 syllables and written in a trochaic tetrameter. Trochaic tetramer is a meter, in which poem consists of four parts called trochees: a long, stressed syllable, followed by a short, unstressed one. It somewhat resembles the aruz wezni pattern.
In the second section of the first part, the narrator changes. This is a prophetic voice, foretelling the future. There is a deep epiphany in this part—a sudden realization of something, a sense of understanding its essence. We encounter a character who introduces herself as the “hyacinth girl.” This section is accompanied by two quotes from Wagner’s operatic version of Tristan und Isolde, an Arthurian tale of adultery and loss. This section is based entirely on allusions to the Old Testament and several mythological motifs. The first one is from Eliot’s commentary on the “God’s Call to Ezekiel” in the Old Testament, and the second one is from Ecclesiastes. Another point that Eliot did not mention in his commentary, but which is clearly pointed out, is a reference to the “The Righteous King” part of the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament:
A man will be as a hiding place from the wind,
And a cover from the tempest,
As rivers of water in a dry place,
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
The most famous lines of the poem are in this part as well:
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
In these four lines, Eliot skillfully combines through the contrast of light and shadow the motifs of birth and death in the time span between sunrise and sunrise, man’s existential fear of turning to dust and mixing with the soil, which is the eventual fate of all. There is also is a reference to the Old Testament: “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes, 3:20) It is not only about man mixing with dust and soil after death, but also about using dust and soil when burying the dead.
This famous part goes into a passage about the “hyacinth” girl, using a stanza from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde as a bridge. According to the legend, Hyacinth was wounded in the head by Apollo during a game of discus throwing and died in Apollo’s arms. Saddened by this, Apollo gave his name to the flower that grew on the spot where his blood was shed to perpetuate his memory. Ovid says in his Metamorphoses that the petals of the hyacinth flower are stained because it grew from the tears shed by Apollo.
In the third section of the first part, we meet Madame Sosostris, who reads fortunes with Tarot cards, and her predictions. Eliot borrowed the strange character of Madame Sosostris from the novel Chrome Yellow by his friend Aldous Huxley, which featured Sesostris, the sorceress of Ecbatana.
In the final episode of the first part, we see the London Bridge shown as something like As-Sirāt, the Bridge of Judgment, as depicted in Dante’s “Hell”. At the same time, we meet Stetson, a fictional character who fought in a battle that conflates the clashes of World War I with the bloody Punic Wars between Ancient Rome and Carthage. The episode concludes with a famous line from the preface to Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal, accusing the reader of sharing in the poet’s sins.
In general, the quotations from different languages in The Waste Land, on the one hand, reflect the cosmopolitan nature of Europe, and, on the other hand, as in the legend of the Tower of Babel, indicate that humanity, which once had to go from a single language to separate languages, in the twentieth century, more than ever, experienced the painful lack of communication. The poem presents in a peculiar manner the despair, the dissociation of sensibility of a person, who keeps walking in circles in the crowd in search of a familiar face, voice, exit. To portray the world where a voice comes out of every mouth, Eliot uses a sharp cutting technique, often changing characters.
The Waste Land is based in general on the Western European Christian legends of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King explored in Jesse Weston’s Romance from Ritual and James Fraser’s The Golden Branch. Both books examine how the ancient fertility rituals passed from century to century under different guises. Of particular interest in these books is the legend of the Fisher King.
It is the story of a king who was wounded in the genitals and whose resulting lack of potency became the cause of his country becoming a desiccated barren land.
According to the legend, when Jesus was crucified, Joseph of Arimathea, who was near him, collected Christ’s blood in a cup—which later became known and famous as the Holy Grail. Joseph was then arrested and after his release from prison took the cup with him to England. Since then, numerous versions of the legend emerged. One of them says that the Holy Grail is guarded in a castle in an arid land ruled by an impotent Fisher King. If the impotent king is healed, the barren land will be revived and regain its fertility. However, a knight put to this task must be pure, clean, and able to put aside his personal interests. In most of these legends, there is an analogy between “land–woman–fertility” and “man–seed–power.” According to Weston and Fraser, the healing of the King of Fishermen is the main motif of many texts, from ancient Egypt to the Arthurian legends in Medieval England. Eliot sees in this legend a resemblance between the impotence of the king, the infertility of the land, and the spiritual barenness of the modern world. Through these myths, the poet points out that materialism, exploitation of nature in the name of industrial interests, and the lack of spiritual and poetic intelligence have made the modern world like this. It means that belief is imprisoned, faith is replaced by command, spirituality is blocked.
In The Golden Branch, James Fraser draws attention to the connection between the death/resurrection of gods and the change of seasons, the withering and rebirth of vegetation; gods such as Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, and Attis are personified versions of nature that die and rise every year. For example, in present-day Turkey, the month of July is called Temmuz. In some mythological sources, Tammuz is Adonis. According to Babylonian religious sources, Adonis is the beloved of Ishtar, who symbolizes the revival of nature and fertility and plenty. According to Greek mythology, Adonis, who came from the trunk of a myrrh tree, was the most beautiful of the mortals. Aphrodite fell in love with him and gave him to Persephone, the queen of the underworld, to hide. Persephone also fell for him and did not want to return him, so Aphrodite and Persephone feuded over Adonis until Zeus decreed that Adonis was to spend six months of the year with Aphrodite and six months with Persephone. Winter begins when Adonis goes underground, and spring comes when he comes back to earth. Just as in the legends about the Fisher King and Holy Grail, there are motifs of impotence and infertility; thus, when Adonis is in the underworld, growth and fertility disappear, and when he returns, spring comes.
After World War I, Eliot wrote an essay entitled “The Dictatorship of Finance” and criticized the way the latter diverts society from spirituality. Many critics agree that before writing “The Waste Land”, Eliot read the famous book The Economic Consequences of Peace, in which the famous economist John Keynes sharply criticized the Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919, and his conclusions greatly influenced the poet. You might recall that as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, Britain, France and Italy, in the words of Keynes, forced the losing side, Germany, to a “Carthaginian peace”, a humiliating agreement. According to Eliotists, the description of Europe, with its ravaged industry and nature, in Keynes’s book is felt in the atmosphere of “The Waste Land”.
The second part of the poem is entitled “A Game of Chess”. Speaking in the language of Zbigniew Brzezinski, the chessboard here is a battlefield; the war between men and women is a prototype of, a metaphor for an interstate war. According to critics who say that this part of the poem is autobiographical, the woman mentioned here is Eliot’s first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood. Eliot and Vivienne were married for 15 years, but they were not happy. Vivienne’s chronic nervous problems eventually developed into schizophrenia, and in 1938 she was finally committed to an asylum…
The title is taken from the seventeenth-century English playwright Thomas Middleton’s play Women Beware Women, which draws analogies between attacks in a chess game and deception. The first episode of this part depicts a rich, well-groomed woman in a house full of elegant furniture. It describes the hysterical and neurotic state of a woman waiting for her lover. In the second episode, we witness two women talking in a bar in London, gossiping about a third woman.
The bartender’s repeated calls of “HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME” is the refrain of this part. One woman talks about her friend (Lil), whose husband has just been discharged from the army: she told Lil that if she didn’t look after herself and get her teeth fixed, her husband, who hadn’t seen a woman’s face for four years, would seek out the company of other women, and Lil said that the reason for her ravaged looks was abortion pills. Women leave the bar to a chorus of “good night(s)”.
The first episode of this part is the hysteria of an aristocratic woman, and the second one, a conversation between lower-class women, is a symmetrical reflection of it. In particular, in the second episode, Eliot presents perhaps the most experimental part of the whole poem, profusely using “I said—she said”, because in this part the poetic structure is built with great skill through refrains (HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME) inserted in everyday speech, repeated words and sentences.
The two women of this part of the poem represent the two poles of modern sexuality: on the one pole, the neurotic, dry exchange that begins and ends with itself, and on the other, lack of culture, casual relationships, and rapid aging.
Critics believe the first woman to be Cleopatra turned inside out. She is as neurotic as Cleopatra, who committed suicide out of love, but this semi-intelligent woman will never be a cultural touchstone. In the poem, this woman is explicitly compared to Philomela, a character out of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In ancient mythology, Philomela was a tragic character raped by her sister’s husband, who then cuts her tongue out to keep her quiet. Later, Philomela turns into a nightingale. The neurotic woman here, like Philomela turned into a nightingale, is a character who cannot communicate her interior self to the world, who sings incomprehensible, sad songs, both at home and in her inner cage, although her surroundings are aesthetically pleasing and rich.
Lil, who is mentioned in the second episode, seems to be living a normal life and doing everything right—she is married, she is waiting for her soldier husband to come home, she has borne children, yet she is being punished by her body, as if Eliot wants to say that the fate of the body is the same regardless of class.
The third part, “The Fire Sermon”, is the longest in the poem. The title is taken from Buddha’s sermon, in which he encourages his followers to give up worldly pleasures. This part opens with a riverside scene. Rats and garbage surround the narrator, who is fishing and “musing on the king my brother’s wreck.” The narrator then recalls how Eugenides, the one-eyed merchant of the Tarot pack of Madame Sosostris, whom we met in the first part, invited him to a hotel, where more homosexuals were gathered. The narrator reveals that he is Tiresias, a mythological creature, who has both male and female features and is blind but can “see” into the future.
This part of the poem is notable for its inclusion of popular poetic forms, particularly musical ones. Here, Spenser’s wedding song turns into the song of the Thames-daughters, a soldier’s ballad, a nightingale’s chirps (a reference to the previous part and Philomela’s story), and other sounds. In this part, Eliot used these “lower” forms, images, that were common in popular culture to create high art. The sexual relations alluded in this part of the poem are also chosen in accordance with the main theme, the concept of the work—barren drought; thus, the homosexual tryst proposed by Eugenides is naturally the opposite of reproduction and growth, that is, rebirth, revival by such means is impossible.
The shortest part of the poem, “Death by Water” describes a man, Phlebas the Phoenician, who has died by drowning. The narrator asks the reader to consider Phlebas, who was once “handsome and tall”, and recall their own mortality. This small part appears to be a ten-line stanza, but in fact it compresses into eight lines: four pairs of rhyming couplets. This is the most formally ordered part of the poem; it is rich in alliterations and didactic in terms of content. The main idea of this part is also the collapse of the idea of renewal and regeneration in modern times, as well as unbelief. This part fulfills Madame Sosostris’s prophecy from the first part: “Fear death by water,” she said looking at a Tarot card.
The final part of the poem, “What the Thunder Said”, is perhaps the most dramatic in the poem. It first depicts the destroyed, devastated cities (Jerusalem, Athens, Alexandria, Vienna), creating a Doomsday atmosphere. Then a cock appears atop of a decaying chapel and it starts to rain. The scene shifts to the Ganges, where thunder rumbles, and Eliot expertly proceeds to the Upanishads.
At the end of “The Waste Land”, Eliot says that the path to salvation from the modern chaos, the way out of the place between the rock and the hard place, can be summed up in three words: Datta, Dayadhvam, and Damyata.
These words are from the Upanishads and they mean: “Give, sympathize, control.”