wildfillysama: One of my favourite poems

Hello! It’s been a very long day today (first day at a month of seminars – began with a group photo and ended with a ten-course banquet, so I’m officially stuffed) so here is a short post featuring one of my favourite poems.


This isn’t a terribly original favourite poem. Lots of people love this poem for a variety of reasons. I first read it in Year 12 at school, because it mentioned a line from the main book I was studying for my final exams: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. This poem encouraged me to look up other American poets, so led me to many more entertaining things.


Things I still love about this poem: There are hundreds of thousands of words dedicated to analysing this poem alone. When it comes to close readings, this poem has been given the royal treatment, so there is no end of great reference material. If you want to get into poetry analysis, this is one of the easiest places to start. Aside from that, this poem is extremely easy to read aloud or to analyse quietly for hours. It blends religion, myth, folksong, moralising and amoral themes, natural and man-made imagery, intertextual references and has a blisteringly pessimistic tone. (Great for my less-than-impressed Year 12 sensibilities).


So here it is!

T.S. Eliot

“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.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s