Saturday, 2 June 2007

Eliot vs. Aragorn

T. S. Eliot wrote a poem entitled The Hollow Men. I quote for you here the fifth section:

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.


Honestly? One part of me, the dramatic part, shivers with glee at something so tragic and, well, because I'm too lazy to check a thesaurus, dramatic. Taking the children's song like that, and inserting it into something so dark and hopeless.... pretty potent. But the other part of me thinks what?

I think it's sick. Eliot takes the Lord's Prayer, which Christ, Himself, taught us, and rips it apart. Now with hermaneutics and all that, one could say Eliot wasn't trying to make any point at all, and that this can be interpreted any way one likes. I'll reject that ridiculous notion and say that Eliot was trying to say, "Look. In the end, everything flies apart. Even the Supernatural. Everything becomes completely and utterly meaningless. It doesn't even become meaningless with a flourish; it just fades." Accept your fate: a hollow end, if you will, after the title.

If the Lord's Prayer becomes so meaningless you can't even finish it, then what does that entail for the rest of creation?

While it does seem to me a lot of the time that the world is going out with a whimper, not a bang, this poem is just wrong. I'm sorry, it's wrong. God's realm will not fall apart. The Lord's Prayer will never become meaningless. And so there's really no reason to waste any more time entertaining such thoughts, however beautifully they may be written.

It's a wonder that Eliot managed to stay alive long enough to write that. With such hopelessness, I don't understand why more people don't commit suicide. Then again, I suppose death would be meaningless, too, so why bother? Just fade away, like Eliot implies....

OK. Let's go onto to something more cheery. I like Aragorn's speech from Lord of the Rings a little better. It's like it was made as a rebuke for Eliot:

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. The day may come when the courage of Men fails; when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship; but it is not this day - an hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the Age of Man comes crashing down - but it is not this day!!! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth -
I bid you stand! Men of the West!

Except I would make two tiny changes. 1) Replace Men of the West with Men of the Light, and 2) make a note that in my version, Man means followers of the Son of Man.

'Tis all.

P.S. I added two new blog links, so make sure you check them out.


Jo said...

I think T. S. Eliot became a Christian. This must be one of his poems before he did.

Art said...

Sounds like T.S. Eliot must have believed in Nihilism. That is sure a depressing world view. Imagine how hard it must be for them to make a marketing campaign to encourage people to join with them to spread their cause: "Join with us in wasting your time to support an utterly worthless cause and receive absolutely no benefits or satisfaction!"

Emily said...

That's why I could never get much into some of the famous poets...they were either depressed, crazy, or both! Maybe I'll learn to appreciate it one day...

We need set up some summer witnessing days! No camera, no nothin, just us and the Holy will be exciting!