Poem of The Week...The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

Why we chose it...

                The first time I picked up a piece from TS Eliot, read it, and fell in love with his writing is, in my opinion, one of the pivotal moments in the trajectory of my life. Though I previously wrote poetry on occasion, I only started writing it seriously after immersing myself in The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. There was something about the way the words worked together to create a new universe in my mind. As I read it out loud to my mother, my voice became a booming crescendo, every word suddenly becoming louder than the one before because I wanted the entire world to hear the importance of such writing. Today, TS Eliot remains my favorite poet and will always have a place in my heart as the person who turned me into the pursuer of poetry that I am today. Though I am not as familiar with The Hollow Men as certain stanzas of Four Quartets or La Figlia Che Piange (I recommend both!) I still find within it Eliot’s ability to tighten my chest with aching, shatter my heart, and, most importantly, pick up the fragments of answers I once had to questions resurrected in the face of such profound work. I hope that this poem resurrects questions that you once thought you knew the answer to and encourages you to see the beauty that can come from not knowing anything at all in such a bleak, bleak world.



The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.