Hallows Coming – Eliot

Nearing closer the night of All Hallows, our poet finds man’s plight shallow with echoes.


W - Nemo font_halloweene 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


echoing Barabar Caves, Makhdumpur region of Jehanabad, India c. 1870


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.

T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men


Care to share your own favorites of fall and the season’s Hallows? Share your most spooky stories, special beloved celebrations, how you and/or your family decorate your home—pics will be required! What about meals or snacks prepared and enjoyed, or better still what astonishing events of paranormal activity have you experienced personally or heard from a close, good (dignified) friend! You have until November 1st to remember them and comment throughout this Hallows theme.


Halloween breaker

2-Macbeth quote bats_footer_2

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9 thoughts on “Hallows Coming – Eliot

  1. Eliot has some great stuff that speaks to our Convatoriumal Octobering. “Hollow Men” fits the Hallow, does it not?
    Eliot’s “Family Reunion” contains gems aplenty. IMO, anyway. Here is an excerpt that I now share with all in earshot (eyeshot?):

    You are all people
    To whom nothing has happened, at most a continual impact
    Of external events. You have gone through life in sleep,
    Never woken to the nightmare. I tell you, life would be unendurable
    If you were wide awake. You do not know
    The noxious smell untraceable in the drains,
    Inaccessible to the plumbers, that has its hour of the night; you do not know
    The unspoken voice of sorrow in the ancient bedroom
    At three o’clock in the morning. I am not speaking
    Of my own experience, but trying to give you
    Comparisons in a more familiar medium. I am the old house
    With the noxious smell and the sorrow before morning,
    In which all past is present, all degradation
    Is unredeemable. As for what happens—
    Of the past you can only see what is past,
    Not what is always present. That is what matters.

    Nevertheless, Harry, best tell us as you can:
    Talk in your own language, without stopping to debate
    Whether it may be too far beyond our understanding.

    The sudden solitude in a crowded desert
    In a thick smoke, many creatures moving
    Without direction, for no direction
    Leads anywhere but round and round in that vapour—
    Without purpose, and without principle of conduct
    In flickering intervals of light and darkness;
    The partial anaesthesia of suffering without feeling
    And partial observation of one’s own automatism
    While the slow stain sinks deeper through the skin
    Tainting the flesh and discolouring the bone—
    This is what matters, but it is unspeakable,
    Untranslatable: I talk in general terms
    Because the particular has no language. One thinks to escape
    By violence, but one is still alone
    In an over-crowded desert, jostled by ghosts.
    It was only reversing the senseless direction
    For a momentary rest on the burning wheel
    That cloudless night in the mid-Atlantic
    When I pushed her over.

    Pushed her?

    You would never imagine anyone could sink so quickly.
    If I had always supposed, wherever I went
    That she would be with me; whatever I did
    That she was unkillable. It was not like that.
    Everything is true in a different sense.
    I expected to find her when I went back to the cabin.
    Later, I became excited, I think I made enquiries;
    The purser and the steward were extremely sympathetic
    And the doctor very attentive.
    That night I slept heavily, alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooooo… Bill, I could not agree more! This is indeed a gem! Thank you Sir for sharing. Perhaps you can find more to share between now and Nov. 1st, eh? I have plenty others in mind for this month. Hopefully we won’t overlap, huh? 😄 However, if you do what you did here—share by the same Poet—that won’t happen, now that I think about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Glad you liked it, Kind Sir!
        My favorite facet glinting from this particular gem:
        “A sudden solitude in a crowded desert”
        served well as my byline on a BBS (1200 baud dial-in) I frequented in the 1990s, so it is still haunting after all these years 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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