Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 138
Context: The poem from which this quotation comes has been taken as an indictment of a whole generation, people whose lives are empty because they can believe nothing. Like the vast crowd of souls that Dante encountered on the dark plain in the vestibule of Hell, these men lived "without blame, and without praise." And just as Virgil said to Dante, "Let us not speak of them; but look, and pass;" so, in Eliot's poem, those who go into the realm of Death with "direct eyes," those who have lived affirmative lives, remember these people–if they remember them at all–only as figures stuffed with straw, grotesque parodies of men.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass . . .