(See THE FIRE SERMON, part of The Waste Land)

What does it mean for the nymphs to have departed? As we know, the nymphs are the goddesses of nature; some mythologies claim that the nymphs are what keep the trees fruitful and green. So, the nymphs are departed, as are, apparently, all signs of life (see the next few lines of The Fire Sermon). What happens next? The death of all living things, deprived of that which makes them grow. The draining of the lakes. The countryside turns to a wasteland (Cf. What the Thunder Said:

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water

And further on:

Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand not lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain

Clearly Eliot was foreshadowing the utter sterility and destruction, the wasteland depicted in What the Thunder Said. The nymphs are departed; good-bye to life, farewell to hope.

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