T.S. Eliot – The Hollow Men

Started reading some poetry today while web surfing. Here’s the link to the poem, courtesy of Poetry X.

T.S. Eliot is probably my favorite poet that I have never read before. I have printed copies of excerpts from his play The Cocktail Party which i consider even in its bastardized form, having been ripped out of context,  to be some of the most wittiest writing in modern English. Ahem, getting side tracked here…

Without further ado, excerpts from the The Hollow Men, by T.S. Eliot.

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—

Other than the allegory reference to the scarecrow: crowskin, crossed staves (the frame of the scarecrow), moving as the wind blows in a field (in a farm field), I do not really understand how a rat’s coat fits into the image. Anyone know?

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

Usage of repeating sentence structure gives this stanza a hypnotic effect: Between the -; And the -. Each word has its counterpoint, be it an effect (desire -> spasm: sex?), contrasts (potency – existence; existence can be viewed as life without potency/strength) and extremities (essence of life: God/Heaven, descent: Hell).

Finally,

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.

Pretty grim end, especially when the end you face is not an explosive but destructive finish but fading out like a loser, a pale fade that just gets fainter, till nothing is left to mark your existence.

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