Are we the Hollow Men?

Are all human beings born with a spiritually hollow heart and mind? Noted mathematician Blaise Pascal believed that we are. He said, There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.” In his poem “The Hollow Men”, TS Eliot echoed Pascal’s thought. In this poem, Eliot creates the imagery of a group of scarecrows huddled together in a barren land. 

They only move as the wind moves them. They are stuffed with hay and yet they are empty of anything of substance. They can hear the winds of heaven, but only as a fading star. Eliot poetically indicates that only Christ – the Multi-foliate Rose, the Perpetual Star, whose “eyes” gaze at the Hollow Men from death’s Dream Kingdom – can save these empty men from the cactus land of Idol Worship. Are we hollow inside? Could it be that all of humanity, left to ourselves, are nothing more than the Hollow Men?

1. We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpieces 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 color,
Paralyzed 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

2. 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, crow skin, crossed staves in a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—
Not that final meeting In the twilight kingdom

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.


May we never be the “Hollow Men”. Instead, May the Grace of Christ turn us away from the cactus land of idol worship and call us to live our lives in the Sunlight of the Perpetual Star, drenched in the aroma of the Multifoliate Rose.

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