The last word of the first line of T.S. Eliot
's The Waste Land
. Chosen because of its pejorative
connotations, it is a description of reproduction
that strips the act of all its joyous
attributes and instead reduces it to a dull, mechanical
The fact that this word, as is the case with many others that complete lines in the poem's introduction, is a gerund
reinforces this meaning; the ironic use of -ing endings in the first few lines, which are used to much more positive, jubulent ends in Chaucer
's Canterbury Tales
, here have an antithetical effect: they drag the momentum
of the poem.
Compare the deflated
tones that Eliot uses, 'breeding', 'mixing', and 'stirring', to Chaucer's
'pierced', 'bathed', and 'engendered'. The contrast is most explicitly noted if one recongnizes that all six words can be used to describe the sex act.
If you wanted to, you could perhaps summarize much of Eliot's poem, or at least its tone, with the word 'breeding' alone.