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"Beneath Eliot's letters in the second volume-so preoccupied with journalism
on the left and marital horror on the right-one hears the hollow men's
meaningless whispers. Eliot is heading toward religion, but is unable as yet
to carry a religious utterance through to finality." - Helen Vendler 

The following lines from East Coker take off from where the poet left off in The Hollow Men: 

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,
And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away-
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing-
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

CR

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Makes sense. I was wholly intrigued.
Thanks,
CR

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]');" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]> wrote:
The Hollow Men has always been a bore for me -- but Vendler's  commentary
makes me rethink it. What  do others think?

Here is that part of her review:


Self-definition by trade or profession is expressed with such sarcasm by
Eliot because there exists no worldly trade-name for a poet. The poet-or at
least this poet-is a hollow man, having neither a commercial profession nor
a religious vocation, balked of both. Once The Waste Land had been
completed, and the broken self was evacuated, Eliot writes his own
(collective) epitaph:

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

Paralyzed, the hollow men cannot actualize any potential, sexual or
creative; their every effort is blocked, their very lines falter:

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow.

The voice falls silent after a futile attempt to finish the Lord's Prayer,
breaking up in static as it utters its final whimper:

For thine is
Life is
For
Thine is the

Beneath Eliot's letters in the second volume-so preoccupied with journalism
on the left and marital horror on the right-one hears the hollow men's
meaningless whispers. Eliot is heading toward religion, but is unable as yet
to carry a religious utterance through to finality. In a letter in 1925 to
Herbert Read, Eliot sets out the dangers of pursuing a religious identity:

Of course the religious difficulty is the great one and it is impossible to
tell what one's solution will be....