Throughout the semester, we have read many poems by many well-known authors. All of these poems were worthy of the literary merit they received, but I would like to write this paper on a poem that is equally as wonderful. I will be writing this paper on T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.” This is an incredibly poetic work that is just simply brilliant. I will be discussing how Eliot constantly uses death and creation images to strengthen the theme of the poem.
Throughout this entire poem, there is an ever-present theme of death. There is not a single stanza where there is not something that is “dead.” The beauty of his verse makes even darkness and death sound appealing. “Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion.” This verse alone gives a beautifully haunting image of darkness and death. This is a descriptive adjective for the kingdom of death in which the hollow men reside. “Death’s kingdom”, “the dead land”, “dying stars”, and “fading stars” are all images of death that Eliot uses to stress the ever-present theme of death in this poem. The way that he links it all together almost makes the reader want to become one of the “hollow men.”
One of the things about this poem that makes it so interesting, is the fact that despite the ever-present theme of death, Eliot throws in a few images of creation to counteract it. In stanza four, the lines “Sightless, unless The eyes reappear As the perpetual star, Multifoliate rose Of death’s twilight kingdom. The hope only Of empty men” creates the image of re-creation as a possibility of these “hollow men”. This is their only hope, and in a way, is like the creation of the world for them. The reappearing eyes almost serve as their saviour. “Between the conception And the creation, Between the emotion And the response Falls the Shadow” is also an image of creation. It is a subtle implication of life and death falls in to existence after creation. Eliot’s poetic style here is simply outstanding.
There is also a religious undertone tied in with all of Eliot’s images of death and creation. It seems that every mention of death gives a religious image as well. The poem always speaks of “death’s kingdom”, and is not death’s kingdom part of the kingdom of God? I definitely get a religious image in my mind, as do, I suspect, most readers, when I see the line “For Thine is the Kingdom” repeated on more than one occasion. This single line from the Lord’s Prayer is the one line that contains an example of all three themes: death, creation, and religion. The religion here is blatantly obvious because it is speaking of the kingdom of God. It can also show death, because according to the Christian faith, once a believer dies, he enters the kingdom of heaven. And this also shows a re-creation – the beginning of a new life in God’s kingdom.
“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’s “The Waste Land” is filled with images of both death and creation and a few religious references as well. All of these images reinforce his theme of death. This poetic masterpiece uses a wonderful style to elaborate on what the author wants to tell.
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