Friday, December 21, 2018

Of little interest to my readers

Did you ever have something from the past start bugging you?  Some idea, or something you’ve read?  And you can’t stop wondering why on earth you are haunted by it, as it comes to mind several times daily?

I’ve had Bible verses come to mind like this, but I usually find some message in the verse and take it as advice, or a reminder.  

I imagine the current political landscape is what started the final words of a poem running over and over again in my head, but that’s just a guess.  It isn’t on the list of my favorite poems; for one thing, I like poems that rhyme, and this one doesn’t.  I couldn’t remember what the entire poem actually said, or even the title of it.  But in this age of Internet, all you need to do is type one line into Google search.  I did this yesterday morning during my alone time and discovered it’s “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Elliot.  

This morning, again, I wondered why this poem wouldn’t let go of me, so I looked it up and read the whole thing, slowly and quietly, to myself.  I sort of glimpsed a few random ideas that almost made sense, but I still didn’t get the meaning of the whole content.  What was this man trying to say?  

Here’s the poem:

The Hollow Men
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.

The last four lines are the ones that started this whole process, but now I want to talk to the author and ask, “What were you thinking when you wrote this?  I don’t understand most of it.”  Since the poem was written in 1925 when my mother was a teenager, I won’t be asking him anything.  But surely I can use google to find someone explaining it, right?  

Good grief, the explanations were as hard to understand as the actual poem!  If I haven’t lost all my readers of this entry, and in case even one of them cares about this, you’ll find one of many explanations by clicking HERE.

I really don’t know any more about this poem than when I started searching, but every time I read those last lines, they feel like a prophecy of some kind.  

And with that, I leave you, likely my one remaining reader of this garble, probably as confused as I am.

Still ponderling.

Yours truly, Donna

6 comments:

Dan said...

This isn't directly helpful, but I have a copy of the manuscript of The Waste Land that he submitted to Ezra Pound, complete with the editorial comments that Pound provided. It is an amazing book, and I'd be happy to lend it to you. It gives a lot of insight into Eliot's poetic method. BTW, I hope you realize that TS Eliot was a Missourian.

Charade said...

Well, I will say you've got me thinking this morning. Let us know when you get some clarification!

Donna Wood said...

Dan, I did not know that! He must not have liked it here. I learned in my searching this morning he chose to be a citizen of Great Britain. I’ll Bet I can find a copy of that book free for downloading somewhere online.

Margaret said...

I like poetry and did a whole lot of interpretation of it in college, especially French poetry. However, some of it is so dense that you just have to enjoy the beauty of the language and the lines that strike you as profound or enlightening.

Margie's Musings said...

It sounds like despair to me and if he wrote that in the 1920s it could have had something to do with the situation in our world at that time.

It sounds appropriate to our world today too. Really timeless. Our world has evolved into chaos nowadays too.

The Feminine Energy said...

I'm not real good at reading OR understanding poetry... so this one is definitely lost on me too, Donna. Sorry I can't be of any help. Love, Andrea xoxo