When reading The Hollow Men, by T.S. Eliot, one's immediate response might be to consider it against to context of which it was written. Such context may be purely historical or may revolve around the author's social life. All of these accounts may prove significant in assessing the poem correctly or even way off, such details often vary, but what is certain is that it is difficult to find a poem or any work of art that does not give insight into the artist's life experience. To consider the artist's immediate relationship to reality to be of trivial or secondary importance is to miss something vital.
[...] “Sightless,” he calls the hollow man, an entity without the eyes of the spirit, the true eyes of the heart. The perpetual star seems to indicate a certain lasting light or the essence of spirituality, the divine will and push of the initiate- this being no different from the awakening of the multifoliate rose, the universally accepted symbol for the heart. Within this context, one can regard death's twilight kingdom as a sort of harmony, a balance between day and night, the “only hope of hollow being the awakening of the heart and, hence, the spiritual eyes. [...]
[...] So no longer is Eliot a high scholar, inaccessible to the layman, but a simple man in whom we can see parallels and from whom we can relate. We can consider T.S. Eliot's Hollow to represent either the literary machinations of some distant genius or the bold account of his own experience of self-realization. Of course, the former is evident in the dry, scholarly account where poetry becomes an “exercise in allusion”, the very “valley of dying stars” he mentions in the poem, the likes of which robs us of our relative experience and presupposes a barrier between writer and reader (Willard). [...]
[...] “Death's other kingdom,” indicates a certain mystical actuality and simultaneously an exoteric simplicity that is not constricted to the stale elements that comprise the hollow men: “[those with direct eyes] remember us . as the hollow men/the stuffed men.” I also find it worth noting that these individuals do not judge the hollow men as violent or as anything, but as what they are in actuality, hollow. There is certainly a maturity in this outlook, a certain wisdom not found in the spiritual wasteland. [...]
[...] This healing process can be seen in Hollow as a matter of context, or more specifically, valley of dying stars,” hollow valley,” dead cactus land.” This wasteland atmosphere is painted throughout the poem opening something of a window into the stale actualities of what the writer wishes to present to us or contend against. Without the realization of a spiritual sterility there can never be a movement towards integration. Nearing the end of section III, the narrator becomes self-conscious and wonders if it's “like this in death's other kingdom.” If it's the same as “waking alone/at the hour when we are/trembling with tenderness/lips that would kiss/form prayers to broken stone.” It seems that there is an awareness here of another possibility. [...]
[...] In occult teachings, it is said that the astral plane is inhabited by spirits of involutionary capacity, which is to say of the same sterility as the hollow men. Carl Jung referred to complexes as a network of ideas linked together by an emotional stimulus. He often referred to such complexes as essentially autonomous (Jung 580). If there is a connection between the unconscious and the spirit world (the latter being often referred to symbolically by way of projections of the deceased), then it is possible that Eliot was referring to his complexes when he says, “voices are in the wind singing more distant and more solemn than a fading star.” Perhaps he is referring to his own capacity to be as dead as the hollow men, the fading star being contrary to the “perpetual star” referred to near the end of section IV. [...]
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