The Guardian has recently published several articles about an art exhibition inspired by Eliot's poem "The Waste Land." Because the exhibition is in Margate, they're keen to quote a part that mentions the place. However, at least three articles in the paper misquote it, changing its meaning.
While trying bizarrely to reduce the poem, which has multiple voices, to a personal depiction of mental illness, Jonathan McAloon claims: “'On Margate Sands,' he wrote, 'I can connect / Nothing with Nothing.'"
Laura Cumming makes the same claim, while Jonathan Jones claims: "It even has an eerie passage about how 'On Margate Sands / I can connect / Nothing with nothing'."
McAloon and Cumming have changed a period to a comma, while Jones has removed the punctuation. Further, McAloon doesn't seem to realise that the lines are framed by quotation marks, i.e. they're being spoken by a character in the poem, and are not the words of an omniscient narrator. Here's what Eliot actually wrote:
“On Margate Sands.
The period at the end of the third line gives it a difference in meaning that is not small, despite three writers for The Guardian failing to notice it.
— Dogo Barry GrahamSubscribe to my newsletter and get a free e-book of your choice