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Analysis and comments on The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

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Comment 46 of 276, added on December 6th, 2009 at 2:01 PM.

I love this poem.It is used well in HALO I love the ending.This is how the
world ends.
And Realy Good poem.love it.:)

TheHollowMen from United States
Comment 45 of 276, added on October 17th, 2009 at 10:12 AM.

At mid life I view this poem more allegorically. I think the poem is a
message, a reply to all the high hopes we held, the idealism, the things we
thought to be important and in the end we stare at the end that comes to us
all. Death.

If you were going to die tomorrrow how would you live life today. Are we
hollow men?

In the context of war, WWI was to be labeled the war to end all wars. And
of course it wasnt. Maybe that was an important reflection or not.
Regardless of what age we live in, we all have a moment which defines us
and the regrets of the choices we made or the victories we had or lives
lost.

As for Apocaylpse Now, I viewed the whole movie like the book Heart of
Darkness, not as a literal movie although you could watch it that way but a
battle within the soul of a man. Kurtz represented the personifcation of a
Kings wisdom gone dark, a shadow king. Willard is our hero. As for the
end? I will leave that to the mystery of our own interpretations.

Many many layers to the poem, Wonderful. Also see info on the book The
Golden Bough which was seen in the movie laying around on Kurtz's table. A
visual clue as to more movie context.

Wes Savage
Comment 44 of 276, added on March 7th, 2009 at 12:22 AM.

Hello, Anonymous, awake at almost 3 am to write comments on poems; I, too,
am one who loves the night.

I always thought this poem very pretentious and contrived in its obscurity,
but never thought of it in relation to Conrad. That makes it clear why I
never liked it; I also thought Conrad was pretentious, contrived, and
obscure. But the last quatrain makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it?

Anonymous, also from United States
Comment 43 of 276, added on February 4th, 2009 at 2:43 AM.

Hear, hear... I think whoever considers "The Hollow Men" to involve war may
be confusing it with the 70's war film "Apocalypse Now - " a spinoff from
Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," a novel that Eliot is basing his poem on.

(So many quotation marks... this form doesn't allow italics or
underlines...)

Anonymous from United States
Comment 42 of 276, added on November 13th, 2008 at 1:12 PM.

The statement that “Hollow Men” makes about the individual of the twentieth
century is mainly the denial of anything related with the supernatural
world, and, definitely, the rejection of God and of Love, which is the same
thing according to St. John.
One the one hand, as we can see from the very beginning, T. S. Elliot
commences his poem with these words: “We are hollow men / we are the
stuffed men/ Leaning together/ Headpiece fill with straw” (verses 1-4). If
we analyze this quotation in depth, we will find the crucial identification
of modern men and women with the hollow men, because they are also a
headpiece fill with straw, since they have radically rejected God because
they do not want to engage with anything associated with the supernatural
world; therefore, modern men and women have nothing that can fill the
emptiness of their hearts since they have decided to turn their back and go
away from God. Furthermore, they have reached a point in which they have
defied God; that is why, these people are trying to fill their hearts with
worldly things, but they will never achieve their purpose since God’s love
and nothing else is the only thing that can really satisfy the human heart;
thus, St. Agustin states: “Our heart will be uneasy until it rests in You.”
Definitely, the modern men and women are empty of ideals, hope, faith, and
of love, which resembles or, better to say, identifies them with the hollow
men. They believe that there is nothing transcendental because there is no
love in them, since they have freely rejected it; as a result, the modern
men and women represent a society of hollow men who have never taken a
stand, who flow down the river and not against it, and who are happy to
live a mediocre life (see verses 72-90 from the “Hollow Men”).
On the other hand, the hollow men are unable to communicate among
themselves, which is what is actually happening with the modern men and
women, because the hollow men cannot have an exchange of feelings,
experiences, or anything that can reflect a little amount of love, and,
accordingly, Elliot states: “Our dried voices, when / We whisper together /
Are quiet and meaningless” (verses 5-7). Here, we clearly see how
difficult and even impossible the communication among the hollow men is.
Their voices are dried, quiet, and meaningless perhaps not because they do
not try to speak, but because they are interiorly and spiritually empty; in
other words, the problem is not that they cannot talk because they do not
have a mouth, but because they do not have a heart. There is no love in
them; that is why, they are unable to utter any word to one another, since
when there is love there is always something to say or to express to the
beloved person, and, even if the beloved individual do not speak to each
other at all, this does not mean they do not love each other; moreover,
sometimes a simple look or contemplation of the beloved person is enough to
satisfy a heart in love; therefore, words are not necessary to express love
to another person. For this reason, the hollow men cannot also show or
express love and perceive the face of the beloved one, so that they can
contemplate him or her, because as Elliot wrote also they are: “Shape
without form, shade without color, / Paralyzed force, gesture without
motion.” (verses 11-12). How is someone going to love a person if he or she
cannot recognize the beloved one for he or she does not have a face or form
that can distinguish him or her from others (shape without form)? How can
there be love if one cannot express it (gesture without motion)? The hollow
men do not even have a face through which they can show love; that is why,
they can neither love nor be loved.
Up to now, everything seems too dark for both the hollow men and the
modern men and women. However, if we look insightfully into this poem, we
can still find that the hollow men have a minimum amount of conscience and
feelings, which might be a sign of hope and ultimate redemption for the
modern society; thus, Elliot says in his poem: “Sightless, unless / The
eyes reappear / As the perpetual star / (…)/ the hope only / Of empty men”
(verses 61-67). Certainly, as we have seen, modern men and women have lost
their ideals, conscience, principles, and almost everything worthy, and,
furthermore, they are empty of spiritual life (love); however, one could
still argue that the hope is only for the hollow men (and also we might say
of modern men and women). When the hollow men talks about the eyes and the
perpetual star, maybe Elliot is using a metaphor to say “saints”, and these
“saints” are the hope only of empty men. Who are these “saints” in modern
society? Well, the answer is simple: we, Christians, should be those
saints, for all Christians since baptism are called for holiness because,
as Christ encourages us, we should be the light of this world and the salt
of the earth.
Finally, I think that the statement proposed by T. S. Elliot in the
“Hollow Men” is that the modern men and women have forgotten the
transcendental meaning of life, which is the consequence of the total
forgetfulness and denial of God and of love. Certainly, human heart has an
almost infinite capacity of receiving love, which only God can provide,
and, when modern men and women refuse God, they are actually denying love,
and the cost of this decision are the one we observe in hollow men’s lives.
We need God to truly fill our lives; otherwise, we are lost.



Fernando from Chile
Comment 41 of 276, added on November 3rd, 2008 at 7:59 AM.

This song was the basis for the song "Meant to Live" by Switchfoot.

"A while back I read a TS Elliott poem called, "The Hollow Men." The
imagery in the poem continues to haunt me: "we are hollow men we are
stuffed men..." I look at our planet and I see a horrible, beautiful
world...where love and hate breathe the same air. This is where we wake up
everyday; this is where we live. Maybe the kid in the song is me, hoping
I'm bent for more than arguments and failed attempts to fly. Something deep
inside of me yearns for the beautiful, the true. I want more that what I've
been sold; I want to live life."-Jon Foreman

Christopher Porch from United States
Comment 40 of 276, added on May 25th, 2008 at 10:52 AM.

A masterpiece of language and visual imagination. My feeling is that the
poem is a commentary on the loss in the 20th Century of faith, morality,
and God. This leads to unimaginable horrors and entropy, and the slow
decline and fall of our society into chaos.

Richie from United States
Comment 39 of 276, added on April 18th, 2008 at 12:24 PM.

This poem was so great I cried myself to sleep and when I woke up I was
still crying.

Stephen J. from Botswana
Comment 38 of 276, added on February 17th, 2008 at 10:50 PM.

I'm a trumpet player music major in college. Im performing a piece called
"The Hollow Men" by Vincent Persichetti. This piece was written for this
poem, or after it. It is available on Itunes (search the hollow men and
download the song by Anthony Plog). The song, like the poem, is gorgeous.
It is very much like the poem, and I find it interesting. Check it out, it
is definately worth the download.

Eric from United States
Comment 37 of 276, added on January 11th, 2008 at 2:43 PM.

because we are a society of prufrocksie effete and feckless we shall be
unable to take meaningful action to resolve our problems therefore our
world will devolve to nothing not with a big nuclear bomb blast but with a
gradual descent into incivility and chaos

d de bellis from United States

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Information about The Hollow Men

Poet: T.S. Eliot
Poem: The Hollow Men
Volume: The Hollow Men
Year: 1925
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 16831 times
Poem of the Day: Sep 10 2013


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