T.S. Eliot’s “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

prufrock 1st inside page

It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

— T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

This is an Excerpt. For full poem go to this link: http://people.virginia.edu/~sfr/enam312/prufrock.html

I first read the poem “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” while taking a class in college on ‘Poetry & Literature.’ My memory of the poem is completely different from college. Then it seemed an odd poem with sprinklings of the weird. That always was a strong remembrance. Reading it today, I find it quite profound and beautiful. I include only the opening passage but highly recommend going to the link above. ‘Prufrock.’ is a brilliant example of why poetry is necessary and expresses whatever it has in mind in a way where no other form of expression would do.

“Poetry is as close as written language comes to the visual arts but, aside from narrative poems, it is not a medium easily adapted to visual forms.” – Josh Jones

t.s.eliot

Commonly known as “Prufrock”, it is a poem by the American-British Poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965). Eliot was influences by Dante Alighieri when he began writing “Prufrock” in February 1910. It was first published in the June 1915 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. It was later printed as part of a twelve-poem pamphlet titled Prufrock and Other Observations in 1917. At the time of its publication, Prufrock was considered outlandish, but is now seen as heralding a paradigmatic cultural shift from late 19th-century Romantic verse to Modernism. The poem is regarded as the beginning of Eliot’s career as an influential poet.

Eliot narrates the experience of Prufrock using the stream of consciousness technique developed by his fellow Modernist writers. The poem, described as a “drama of literary anguish”, is a dramatic interior monologue of an urban man, stricken with feelings of isolation and an incapability for decisive action that is said “to epitomize frustration and impotence of the modern individual” and “represent thwarted desires and modern disillusionment”. Prufrock laments his physical and intellectual inertia, the lost opportunities in his life and lack of spiritual progress, and he is haunted by reminders of unattained carnal love. With visceral feelings of weariness, regret, embarrassment, longing, emasculation, sexual frustration, a sense of decay, and an awareness of mortality, “Prufrock” has become one of the most recognised voices in modern literature. [Wikipedia]

9 thoughts on “T.S. Eliot’s “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

  1. What an odd coincidence–I just looked up this poem at the beginning of the week when I was writing my Monday Morning post! The lines about the “women come and go” had mysteriously popped into my head. I also had not read the poem in many years, but it is wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t quite remember what brought it to mind but I do know I had a strong urge suddenly that I must read it. It seems we both collided in the same space where our attention was drawn to the same place with ‘Prufrock’ echoing in our minds. Very cool! It is a poem to emulate. Some day I hope to be so inspired as to make an attempt to write such a magnificent representation of what one could create with words and ideas. ‘Prufrock’ is so splendidly expressed in such a grand stream of thought… It is one of many challenges I would love to succeed at doing. A dream…

      Like minds, I do believe, we were in the same space of mind. 🎇 💫 💨

      Liked by 2 people

  2. One of the must reads for sure. The passage that jumps out of me about the modern condition:

    For I have known them all already, known them all;
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 50
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.
    So how should I presume?

    If I was to have a tombstone (which I don’t think I will), I would consider having “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” written across it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so overflowing with inspiration. A challenge for sure to capture his essence. It glows in the dark, illuminating stretches of wisdom unfolding. The epitaph is fitting. I wonder what we would choose as our own. Prufrock opens the soul to such a deep place. It shows us life as it shouldn’t be and maybe if we could live the flip side it would reach a level of feelings of satisfaction, still knowing that frustration is how life brings on surprises, not necessarily hoped for and other so fantastic, you would never imagine.

      Life does bring on pain, knowing it is a part of life’s inescapable dimensions, what do we do to negotiate it’s dastardly invasion? I vape to relieve it. Benefits are inspiration and an escape from the intractability of a lack of control. Life gives you the illusion you have any.

      One day I am going to take up the challenge to write a poem that reads so smoothly and contains the depths of honesty, that truth in some form will be revealed.

      Going to think about that epitaph.

      Liked by 1 person

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