t. s. eliot | the hollow men

3 11 2011

POETRY DISPATCH No. 357 | November 3, 2011


The Hollow Men

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.




6 responses

3 11 2011
Leonard Cirino

Great Read Norb, thanks, leo

3 11 2011
Ralph Murre

wow . . . eliot’s portrait of us all sooner or later and blei’s self-portrait with crows and crucifixion in what appears to be old new mex revisited on the heals of dia de los muertos the multifloriate rose of our dying columbia and on my walk in the forever mortal north wood just now the flame of tamarak at burning sundown. . . wow

4 11 2011

TS Eliot said it all so perfectly for me when I was 16. All that angst about emptiness. All that despair. And he was so young when he wrote these poems. I don’t know that Eliot or Prufrock ever got to see the rainbow feathers that may curve round the side of one’s head. In NM hollow hills sometimes hold bombs, the source of other waste lands.Don’t forget, tomorrow is Guy Fawkes Day. Dia de Los Muertos and Marigold Parade this Sunday. Wear your feathered headdress.. . ’tis the season.

4 11 2011
Judith Wiker

More More

Liberate the secluded watercolors
waving their curled edges
sending smoke signals from eons
of dust twirling swear words
buried under stacked manuscripts

Bring forth the bloom of weeping
tint, hue and primordial pizzazz
the fertile tracks of stray passion
splash fresh eyes with your
Rorschach of cryptic magic

4 11 2011

A powerful poem no matter what you think of Eliot, and there’s plenty about the man that I’ve not liked. Yet, his work has stood the test of time and will continue to do so, I think. I like Prufrock and have enjoyed The Wasteland as well. Thanks for posting. We need to be reminded of these classic works.

5 01 2012
Sai Praveen

really a marvel..!!

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