John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Poet's Corner: The Hollow Men

Today's poem is dedicated to the memory of caerwynx's washer. See below for details.

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

T. S. Eliot (1888 [big snow that year]–1965)

When caerwyn posted about the death of her washer yesterday, she wrote, "My washer, she is dead," which immediately reminded me of this poem and its epigraph. Since I probably wouldn't have thought to post this poem otherwise, I decided that it deserved to be dedicated it to the memory of caerwyn's dearly departed appliance.

Tags: poet's corner
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