The Hollow Debates, the Stuffed Debates

The last of America’s presidential debates put me in mind of George Carlin and T. S. Eliot, below. Those on both sides claim the End of the Civilization will occur if their opponent wins but, as history shows, such apocalyptic claims, whatever their nature, never come to pass. Reality is always much more sad, and banal. This is the best we can do, folks.


The Hollow Men

by T.S. Eliot

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

     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


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 this 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 with a whimper.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post and well stated!

  2. Unfortunately I agree. I want to see a women in the white house.It is ridiculous the amount of sexism that exists. I am not a fan of Hilary but she is perfect for the first women to have to go through the barrage of hate against women. I would have been heartsick if it was a woman I admired. I do have empathy for her being the first. It was Shirley Chisholm who said, “A black man would be elected before a woman.”

  3. Mel & Suan says:

    It has been painful for non Americans to see the whole spectacle. Will not comment since this would interfere in your country’s due process. But we hope that the best comes out from it all.

  4. Jauregui0609 says:

    Reblogged this on MrJaguar's Blog and commented:
    This is the best we can do folks!

  5. I often remember Pogo, the swamp turtle drawn by Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
    In other words, change begins with each of us individually. If we succumb to despair, we are not at our best.
    It might also help to remember when Eliot was doing much of the above writing: the teen and 20s into the First World War of the last century. We are in the teen years of this century. I expect the world will once more find its way to sanity. At least for a while.
    I’m more inclined to remember Bob Dylan: …and the times they are a changin’
    Change is hard. Despair is worse.

  6. Lady G says:

    You had me at George Carlin 🙂

  7. The real apocalypse – no one sees it coming (e.g. in 1346).

  8. wanderwolf says:

    What a very, very strange coincidence. I only yesterday (before seeing this post) looked up this poem…

  9. Don Royster says:

    George Carlin is so right about the voters. When less than 50% of eligible voters vote, we’re getting the kind of government we deserve.

  10. ducksam says:

    Thank you for reminding me of T. S. Eliot’s poem, one of my favorites from grad school in English. I’ll have to disagree somewhat with your introductory comment, however, and point you to the last couple of years of the German Weimar Republic (a democratic republic, by the way), the election of President Hindenburg in 1932, his appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, and his ceding of power to this “Antichrist” a year or so later. One can argue–persuasively I believe–that this was the beginning of “Armageddon” for the German Republic, resulting in the violent death of tens of millions of human beings.

    However, as one modern historian has pointed out (can someone help me here?), Fascism in the 21st century is a more subtle animal on its surface, though its final empirical consequences may be quite similar. We are witnessing, at this time, a flirtation with a kind of fascism–on the part of the Alt-Right in our own country–that may become even more deadly.

  11. Neal Visher says:

    It just reminded me of a ‘western style’ Haiku (aka simply 5/7/5/)
    living in the now
    moments, a lifetime nuisance
    there is no escape

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