One of the first poems I ever memorized was The Hollow Men, by T.S. Eliot. It may seem an odd choice at the age of 13, but I won't deny that I was an odd child. I liked the cadence of this poem, which was sorrowful, urgent and incantatory, like a prayer. There is an apocalyptic weariness to The Hollow Men that makes it timely today. Even if you don't know the poem, you probably know how it ends, since the final refrain took on a life of its own that is probably eternal. It sounds more like a children's nursery rhyme: "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."
In other words, we all fall down.
Here is the first verse:
The Hollow 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
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.