TS Elliot – The Hollow Men. LitDiscourse – Verses Inked

TS Elliot – The Hollow Men. LitDiscourse – Verses Inked

ts elliot

In the times of Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Nobel Literature Prize in 2017, we at Verses Inked are still talking about Elliot – winner of the award in 1948, for his distinguished and among all, ‘pioneering’ contribution to the field of literature.

You could not but be preoccupied with poetry at Verses Inked.September 28th is observed as National Poetry day in the United Kingdom and Ireland. September 26th is the birth anniversary of T.S.Elliot, preceded by a day each by the birthdays of William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald. An overdose of poetry and literature. The kind of stuff that gets us exited at Verses Inked.

April, however is the cruelest month, as Elliot says in the opening lines of his much revered – The Waste Land. April as a matter of fact and co-incidence is also celebrated as the National Poetry month by the Academy of American poets.

Now to a day of business at Verses Inked. About the Verses Inked way of going about an affair. More than making the best of a given situation. Its about talking what you want to talk about. Its about sharing an experience. It is how you distinguish an occasion. It is about keeping a tradition going.

TS Elliot – The Hollow men – LitDiscourse -Verses Inked.


“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 with a whimper.”


The famous concluding stanza from the poem, the hollow men, a poem identified the social and political tensions in Europe post world war I. An in-between phase for the author in many ways.   The above quoted stanza, arguably is the most quoted lines in 20th century poetry. Yet to speak of beginnings. The poem commences upon its course with the following lines.


Mistah Kurtz he dead

A penny for the old guy.


Two seemingly harmless references before the verse is delivered and a TS Elliot masterclass is set upon its destined projectile.

Mistah Kurtz is a key character in Joseph Conrad’s Novella – The Heart of Darkness. The persona in chief who in the shadow of the vile capitalist forces renders relevance to the title.

The next line – ‘A penny for the old guy’, is cry from British kids for donations to buy fireworks on Guy Fawkes day, to commemorate the failure of the gun powder plot.

In fact the mention of 2 monumentally shadowed characters to commence on a barrage of the most extra-ordinary verse, which makes TS Elliot one among the masters of modernism.

Even as the poem commences, the modernist poet right away is hard put to task, drawing heavily from formalism and Imagism. Rhythmic, precise, intricately structured, heart wrenching, lyrical, drawing vivid imagery and that should be it. A true student of the art as the modernist poet is, there are several references to Dante, to be followed by a hint of a mention of Shakespeare’s Brutus, and a reference to the Lord’s Prayer in the lines, ‘For thine is the kingdom.

As a body of work, the poem in its entirety is of 98 lines. Far too much of literature for poetry to be exhaustive about and not sound academic. More-so when the entire compilation of the verse is quote worthy, at every drop of a punctuation. Death has an a predominant influence on the subject matter. Death qualifies as a kingdom, described with the adjectives – dream, twilight and other. The theme of the poem, which elevates as the common factor in the various segments of the poem, is a sense of incompleteness, complimented with futile excesses and rank obscenities. Yet all so exquisite poetry to sound, as only was possible in the early half of the 20th century. The poet draws brilliant, vivid images in quick succession through out the entire expanse of the written verse.

The entire verse is laid out in the following segment for the benefit of the reader. Plain and simple poetry – As and how we have had known it. This is how after all – The World Ends . In a Whimper. The state of poetry..rests its case.



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.


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