Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Poetry By Inches, Words By a Mile - T.S.Elliot

The Hollow Men
A penny for the old guy


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpeice 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
Walking 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.
TS Elliot



Doctor FTSE said...

This poem was included in the anthology I had for O level GCE at school, but I don't remember we studied it in any detail. I still find it kinda difficult.
The anthology - which included poems written up to 1934. I still have the book - included "Anthem For Doomed Youth" but nothing else by Owen, and none of the anti-war poems of Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg etc. I didn't realise at the time that this was probably deliberate. "Mustn't let our young folk read about how war is nasty stuff, eh? Dulce et Decorum Est, what what?"

My old Dad was badly shrapnelled in front to Arras, and if he hadn't been blessed with an iron constitution, I doubt you'd be reading this now.

C.J.Duffy said...

I am very interested in anything concerning the Great War. My maternal Grandfather fought in that horrendous war but seldom spoke of it neither did my Uncle, his first born son speak of his time fighting in Borneo.

Owen and Sassoon were such corageous men. Have you read Pat Barker's triology of bokks concerning World War 1?

If you haven't pop down to Waterstones and buy 'em. They are fantastic!

Doctor FTSE said...

I could post my Dad's letter to she who became my Mother, from his demob camp near Weymouth. Fascinating . . always a man of few words, it begins, along the lines "I can't think of much to tell you, Nell . . " and goes on for about 18 pages!

See if you can get hold of - you'll need Inter Library Loans or a lucky hit in a vintage book shop - "A Brass Hat in No Man's Land" - a sort of antidote to "All Quiet on The Western Front" It's by a retired brass hat determined to prove that "Dulce et Decorum Est" was the way ahead, lads.

I will look for the Pat Barker book on Amazon, etc.

Remember my comment on Roger's "Smells"post, about my teenage girl friend from the chippie? Her old Dad was in the Machine Gun Corp - the "Suicide Club" He never spoke of his WW1 experiences either.

"War is a game, which, were their subjects wise,
Kings could not play at" (John Falstaff, I think, though which play -I need to check . . . )

Doctor FTSE said...

I'm slippin' CJ! Ain't even Shakespeare.
William Cowper! That'll teach me to check my sources first! You can find the quote, and lot's more on


Penitent Doc