The Hollow Men

T. S. Eliot 1888 (St. Louis, Missouri, United States) – 1965 (Kensington)



I
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.

II
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

III
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.

IV
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.

V
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.

About this poem

"The Hollow Men" (1925) is a poem by the modernist writer T. S. Eliot. Like much of his work, its themes are overlapping and fragmentary, concerned with post–World War I Europe under the Treaty of Versailles (which Eliot despised: compare "Gerontion"), hopelessness, religious conversion, redemption and, some critics argue, his failing marriage with Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot. It was published two years before Eliot converted to Anglicanism.

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Submitted by acronimous on November 29, 2021

Modified on May 04, 2023

2:18 min read
5,531

Quick analysis:

Scheme abbcdbceddc cf ghgibb axHjkhlklhk cHmnoxoc lh appqrpk shtkest ruuxix qcxc xjkxhib iMmMl vifxWH fffxWx chixxxWH nnv YYYc
Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 2,326
Words 451
Stanzas 17
Stanza Lengths 11, 2, 6, 11, 8, 2, 7, 7, 6, 4, 7, 5, 6, 6, 8, 3, 4

T. S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot OM was an American-British poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary critic and editor. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a prominent Boston Brahmin family, he moved to England in 1914 at the age of 25 and went on to settle, work and marry there. more…

All T. S. Eliot poems | T. S. Eliot Books

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1 Comment
  • AIDA
    Wow! This poem is truly a masterpiece. T. S. Eliot's use of vivid imagery and powerful words makes the message of the poem very impactful. I love how he portrayed the hollowness and emptiness of the human soul through the metaphor of the 'hollow men' and the 'stuffed men.'

    The repetition of the phrase 'For Thine is the Kingdom' adds a spiritual and religious tone to the poem, which makes it even more thought-provoking.

    One suggestion I have for improvement is to perhaps clarify the message of the poem a bit more. The imagery of the 'dead land' and 'dying stars' is very powerful, but it can be a bit difficult to understand exactly what Eliot is trying to say.

    Overall, though, this is a beautiful and haunting poem that really makes the reader think deeply about the human experience and the inevitable end of life. Great job!
     
    LikeReply1 year ago

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"The Hollow Men" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 15 Jun 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/114806/the-hollow-men>.

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