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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Other Poems

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Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels.

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Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels.

30 review for The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Other Poems

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    Review 3 of 5 stars to the poetry of T.S. Eliot, specifically, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Other Poems. In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, a man confronts his physical sexuality during an elite social gathering. The man, J. Alfred Prufrock, breathes in his surroundings and then uses them to define his own appearance as the antithesis of what he sees. The man has no self-esteem and therefore constantly dwells on his negative attributes and less-than-perfect features. In the Review 3 of 5 stars to the poetry of T.S. Eliot, specifically, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Other Poems. In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, a man confronts his physical sexuality during an elite social gathering. The man, J. Alfred Prufrock, breathes in his surroundings and then uses them to define his own appearance as the antithesis of what he sees. The man has no self-esteem and therefore constantly dwells on his negative attributes and less-than-perfect features. In the poem, Prufrock recites a long monologue that is characteristic of almost every other human being. T. S. Eliot uses Prufrock as a symbol, for humanity in general, to show how all persons are doubtful at times of their attractiveness. Prufrock is a man of uncertain age. (Spender 31) Therefore, he can be portrayed as a teenager, a middle-aged man, or a person of any other age very easily. If one looks at Prufrock through the eyes of a teenager, he can easily be seen as a seventeen-year-old. While Prufrock is “like a patient etherized upon a table” (line 3), teenagers roam the halls at school like puppy dogs with their mouths open, dazed and lost in space. Both are in love with some beautiful woman and wander the paths practically drooling. While Prufrock is busy finding time “for a hundred indecisions, and a hundred visions and revision” (lines 32-33), teenagers are occupied thinking of ways to approach the person they want. Both seem to put facades on to make themselves sound better so that they will get the person they want to get. While Prufrock is worrying “with a bald spot in the middle of his hair - (How they will say his hair is growing thin!)” (lines 41-42), teenagers constantly, in vain, check their own hair in the mirror to see if it is just perfect! There are several similarities between young people like teenagers and Prufrock. However, not only does Prufrock resemble teenagers, but he also resembles middle-aged men who are hitting a mid-life crisis. They worry about their hair balding or becoming gray and whether they are attractive enough. They go out and try to reinvent themselves as different people just as Prufrock does with his revisions, decisions, and visions. Prufrock has characteristics of several different people of all ages. Eliot is showing that all men (women included) have doubts and occasional low self-esteem. Whether you are 17, 37, or 57, you are capable of having no confidence occasionally. This is Eliot’s generalization of all men. Prufrock’s worries concerning his sexuality and appearance not only show his resemblance to all men, but they also stop him from continuing on with his life as a happy, caring, and normal man. “He is Eliot’s archetype of the great refusal, the man who fears to dare and so misses life... ...Prufrock initiates Eliot’s obsession with the lost opportunity and the missed life.” (Mayer 127) Prufrock is so busy concentrating on his less-than-perfect features and supposed negative attributes that he lets life pass him by. “I grow old... I grow old... I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.” (Line 120-121) Prufrock loses the future by concentrating on the present. His inhibitions about the opposite sex hold him back. “‘Prufrock’ is built around the arid, timid, conventional persona of a man sexual enough to admit desire, but insufficiently sexual to do anything about it.” (Raffel 24) In every person’s life they feel like this occasionally. They love someone, but they hold themselves back because of some fear, etc. Eliot uses Prufrock as a symbol for all men again. “Prufrock is inhibited, self-conscious, obsessed with image, self-possessed, and afraid... Fear is in the way - the fear to dare, to live honestly, to tell all, to be the Fool. The mermaids will not sing to Prufrock because he will not sing to anyone. His “love song” to himself is a cry of anguish...” (Mayer 128-129) While Prufrock sings to himself, men everywhere are busy talking outlook to the stars, the sky, and the moon about how much they wish they could get the girl they loved or be more handsome, more intelligent, or more loved. Some of these men will cry out in anguish and they will not tell anyone how they feel because of inhibitions. The mermaids (women) therefore will not sing to him if he will not sing to them! All men are afraid to tell a woman how they feel about them often in reality. They will stutter and beat around the bush. Besides the mermaids, there are several other minor characters who can support this theory. Prufrock talks about Prince Hamlet, Lazarus, the Footman, and an attendant lord. He has characteristics of all these men. He attends to others and never pleases himself like the attendant lord. “Hamlet embodies Prufrock’s aspirations to live - that is, to be or not to be”. (Mayer 117) All men have asked themselves that question; Should I do it or shouldn’t I? (Referring to asking someone out) All of these people have traits in common with Prufrock, moreover with every other man. Once again, Prufrock is shown to be a symbol for all men. In the middle of the poem, Prufrock talks of other men and the effect of the yellow smoke that curled around the windows. “...And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows.” (lines 71-72) Prufrock obviously identifies with the lonely men (despite their shirt-sleeves), and perhaps sees their leaning out of the windows as symbolic of his own desire for contact with the world. (Spurr 7) Since Prufrock identifies with the lonely men, therefore, that is proof that others have felt this way. Prufrock, like all others often in their lives, back away from pursuing love from a paralyzing fear that results in the ultimate loss of the object he desires. “Prufrock watches his possible moment of greatness flicker because of his anxiety over his looks.” (Spurr 56) All men seem to follow in his footsteps. If one looks at a few words specifically in the poem, like “let us go then, you and I” (line 1), one can see why Prufrock really is a symbol for all men in general. “The “you” and “I” of the first line present greater difficulties. Critics have commonly interpreted them as referring to two parts of Prufrock, carrying on a conversation with himself.” (Headings 24) Many times Prufrock seems to be having a conversation with someone else, perhaps another man, or even his object of love. However, the poem is really one long monologue. Prufrock is speaking to himself. Men in reality will often do the same when trying to make a decision. They will ask themselves whether they really love the woman, or want to marry her, or want to kiss her, etc. Talking to oneself is a common practice to make a decision. J. Alfred Prufrock is a man who is in love with a certain woman, but he is somehow held back from approaching her. He feels unworthy of her, he feels unattractive, and for some reason he is sexually inhibited. At one time in their life, whether it be as a teenager, a middle-aged man, or an older person, men have felt like Prufrock. They have doubts, fears, and inhibitions. Prufrock is truly a symbol for all of humanity in general. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Question: Why oh why do they make children read Prufrock in school? How can a kid, having run in from recess with pink perfect cheeks and years to go before hairs start sprouting out of weird places, have any idea what T.S. Eliot is talking about? How can someone who thinks 21-year-olds are ancient, possibly get Prufrock? I remember being asked to read this poem in fourth grade, and it is touching in an odd way to think back on the scene in the classroom - my 40-ish, balding teacher, bent almost Question: Why oh why do they make children read Prufrock in school? How can a kid, having run in from recess with pink perfect cheeks and years to go before hairs start sprouting out of weird places, have any idea what T.S. Eliot is talking about? How can someone who thinks 21-year-olds are ancient, possibly get Prufrock? I remember being asked to read this poem in fourth grade, and it is touching in an odd way to think back on the scene in the classroom - my 40-ish, balding teacher, bent almost double over his desk with his passion for this poem, begging, pleading with us callow, bright-eyed children, to get it - his desk might as well have been the Great Wall of China. We just stared and blinked our big anime eyes and thought he was a crazy old fart. Time didn't touch us yet. Like all kids, we thought it never would, that we had been spared by dint of our superiority. Poor Mr. Bull; he must have gone home, shaved his bunions and wept into his tea. Years and years later, I took a class at San Francisco City College, which focused on three readings: Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I had not re-read Prufrock since that 4th grade incident. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I was inculcated in the theory that if a poem scans, rhymes, tells a cohesive story, or otherwise makes sense, it sucks. Ginsberg, Snyder, Diane DePrima, and anyone who wrote stream-of-consciousness, explosive, expressive id-based barbaric yawps = good; Shakespeare, St. Vincent Millay, Eliot, and essentially anyone whose work appeared in the reviled, rejected, Lackeys-of-the-Imperialist-Bourgeoisie-classical canon = bad. At 11, I read it and couldn't believe how stupid it was. What the hell was this guy Eliot even talking about? I liked mermaids and peaches, but the rest of the poem might as well have been in a dead language. At 30, I read it and every line sank into my soul and shook me. I had spent enough time on earth to feel the first stirrings of fear of mortality. I wasn't in my twenties anymore and I thought, this is the best damn poem I have ever read. Maybe you have to get a bit older before this poem resonates with you - maybe you have to have felt the first stirrings of existential despair and the chill of mortality. Probably you have to have heard the eternal footman hold your coat, and snicker, and in short, be afraid. There are so many parts of Prufrock that I love - that sum up the so-called 'human condition' so perfectly: "Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky, like a patient etherised upon a table.." "I have measured out my life in coffee-spoons.." "Do I dare to eat a peach?" "I grow old, I grow old..I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled..." "I should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas.." And finally: "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me. I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black. We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Exina

    It was a required reading at literature seminar. I like poetry in general, and I enjoyed many of these poems.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is the most beautiful poem I have ever read. I'm not a big poetry connoisseur, so feel free to disagree. I would eat this poem if I could. Or marry it. I would hold the hair of this poem while it puked, if it were the type of poem to drink heavily to the point of wretching, but it's not. This poem is far too good for those sort of shennanigans. (Instead, it partakes of tea and cakes and ices and lingers in dooryards and ponders the beauty and futility of life, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is the most beautiful poem I have ever read. I'm not a big poetry connoisseur, so feel free to disagree. I would eat this poem if I could. Or marry it. I would hold the hair of this poem while it puked, if it were the type of poem to drink heavily to the point of wretching, but it's not. This poem is far too good for those sort of shennanigans. (Instead, it partakes of tea and cakes and ices and lingers in dooryards and ponders the beauty and futility of life, which is why I love it so.) I don't know about the rest of the poems in this book because Prufrock is so brilliant it burned all the rest of the pages of this book with its white-hot awesomeness.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    "Do I dare disturb the universe?" (view spoiler)[Anxiety, worries, and fears rendering you unable to act on your thoughts. Not knowing what to expect from the future besides the foreseeable outcome of thinning hair and growing old. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock portrays these common concerns with eloquence. There are many lines throughout the piece that I have thought over. The third line states, “Like a patient etherized upon a table”. I think that Eliot uses this image as a foreshadowing "Do I dare disturb the universe?" (view spoiler)[Anxiety, worries, and fears rendering you unable to act on your thoughts. Not knowing what to expect from the future besides the foreseeable outcome of thinning hair and growing old. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock portrays these common concerns with eloquence. There are many lines throughout the piece that I have thought over. The third line states, “Like a patient etherized upon a table”. I think that Eliot uses this image as a foreshadowing of Prufrock’s inability to act, a numbing feeling which leads him to be incapable of entering the house full of women conversing about Michelangelo. Eliot also writes about a fog; “The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes”. I can’t help but notice that this fog takes on animal-like qualities. This description sounds more like a cat to me than a yellow fog. Is Prufrock the cat? Why doesn’t he enter the house? Is he afraid of the women or nervous to speak to them? Prufrock questions himself incessantly with the question “Do I dare?”. He asks this on a couple different occasions; “Do I dare Disturb the universe?” and “Do I dare eat a peach?”. The latter question is interesting. I found that a peach is a Chinese symbol for marriage and immortality. Is Prufrock afraid of these things although he actually desires them? In fact, there are many questions throughout the entire piece. Prufrock seems indecisive and confused. Also, the fog (cat?) at the beginning of the piece never enters the house. This further strengthens the theme of indecisiveness. He worries about growing older and how this will affect his outer appearance. His hair is thinning along with his arms and legs. He says, “I grow old…I grow old…I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled”. Apparently, rolling up the bottoms of one’s pants is an attempt to ward off death. This hints back to the previous point I made about Prufrock wanting immortality. His concerns about getting older show that he knows his desire is impossible. Overall, my thoughts about this piece is that Prufrock has been bothered his whole life with his indecisiveness and his lack of taking action. He goes back and forth questioning himself about if he is daring enough to do the things he wishes (voice his opinion to the world, get married, live a full life [immortality?], etc.). His fear paralyzes him and he’s growing older. He is trying to hesitantly figure out what to do before it is too late. (hide spoiler)]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stella Dinielli

    “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is an examination of the tortured ego of the modern man—overeducated, eloquent, neurotic, pompous and disturbed, who’s ironically tortured due to his overwhelming brilliance. The main character, not someone of fame and wealth but rather an unacknowledged poet, sees the world as spiritually exhausted and a wasteland. Humans are incapable of communicating with one another because their psychological state is too fragile and afraid of change. He notices all the “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is an examination of the tortured ego of the modern man—overeducated, eloquent, neurotic, pompous and disturbed, who’s ironically tortured due to his overwhelming brilliance. The main character, not someone of fame and wealth but rather an unacknowledged poet, sees the world as spiritually exhausted and a wasteland. Humans are incapable of communicating with one another because their psychological state is too fragile and afraid of change. He notices all these things by observing people and nature, and yet is unable to do anything to change any of it because he is “etherized like a patient” by his own fear of rejection, change and indecisiveness. While a part of him would like to shake them up and wake them from their cookie cutter, meaningless lives, another part of him knows to accomplish this change he would have to “disturb the universe” and change is hard. All this realization and character development given to us by T.S. Eliot through Prufrock’s eyes is from simple observation and figurative language. This work is a perfect example of just how T.S. Eliot mastered figurative language.

  7. 4 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Catching up with the classics # 17 3.5 stars

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dave Cheng

    My copy of this book I stole from my high school library. In my freshman poetry class, we were told to memorize a poem of at least 10 lines. I told my teacher that this was a pointless assignment and that rote memorization doesn't teach anything, but honestly I was just lazy and hated the idea of memorizing anything. Then I stumbled upon The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. It took me one night/morning to memorize the 132 lines.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro Saint-Barthélemy

    The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a masterpiece, 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟, but, as a whole book of poems, it just functions like a pop album, meaning that there are two very good poems or hits (Rhapsody on a Windy Night is also brilliant) and the rest feel like fillers (which Eliot knew, for they are clearly jokes). Let us go instead of Let's go (same goes for do not ask and maybe other cases) seems like a poetic inaccuracy to me (it would be great to have Ezra Pound's opinion on this [aren't all his correcti The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a masterpiece, 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟, but, as a whole book of poems, it just functions like a pop album, meaning that there are two very good poems or hits (Rhapsody on a Windy Night is also brilliant) and the rest feel like fillers (which Eliot knew, for they are clearly jokes). Let us go instead of Let's go (same goes for do not ask and maybe other cases) seems like a poetic inaccuracy to me (it would be great to have Ezra Pound's opinion on this [aren't all his corrections of The Waste Land fantastic? Pound was as knowledgable as gifted [he had a poetic 6th sense which Eliot would have given an arm for having]), for Eliot wanted to sound modern, casual, etc. If you like The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot and/or poetry enough, you should know whom this poem comes from: Jules Laforgue. Eliot was close to not overcome the anxiety of his influence, stating that I was hypnotized by the music of his verse. Prufrock, published in 1917, was immediately hailed as a new manner in English literature and belittled as an echo of Laforgue and the French symbolists to whom Eliot was highly and clearly indebted. T. S. Eliot said that he traced his beginnings as a poet to two influences, the later Elizabethans and the poems of Laforgue. He said that Laforgue spoke to his generation more intimately than Baudelaire seemed to do, and he ranked Laforgue with Donne and Baudelaire as the inventor of an attitude, a system of feeling or of morals. Some of Eliot’s early poems, notably Portrait of a Lady and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, are modeled on Laforgue’s “complaints.”

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paras2

    Oh Eliot, how u push me to fall into the chasm of nihilism.... 😞

  11. 4 out of 5

    Archie

    T S Eliot's first pamphlet of poetry, Prufrock and Other Observations was incessantly hyped before publication by Ezra Pound, the one time modernist poet and erstwhile fascist campaigner during the Second World War, although that shouldn't be used as a stick to beat Eliot, even if there were many doubts about his own sympathies at the time (particularly in relation to his alleged anti-Semitism). While Eliot used allusions to such an extent that some wondered whether he was in fact guilty of plag T S Eliot's first pamphlet of poetry, Prufrock and Other Observations was incessantly hyped before publication by Ezra Pound, the one time modernist poet and erstwhile fascist campaigner during the Second World War, although that shouldn't be used as a stick to beat Eliot, even if there were many doubts about his own sympathies at the time (particularly in relation to his alleged anti-Semitism). While Eliot used allusions to such an extent that some wondered whether he was in fact guilty of plagiarism, I would have to say that I don't think he was a plagiarist. As he said himself: ‘No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists’. So while he undoubtedly used a lot of other sources, he manipulated them into entirely original montages - indeed he and other Modernists have been descibed as montage artists. Eliot was one of the main architects of the Modernist movement in literature alongside the likes of James Joyce. On the surface, the poems in Prufrock seem so dense as to be almost impenetrable. However, by making the effort to reach into the depths of these poems, the reader will be rewarded with a richly woven, colourful and philosophical tapestry.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Prufrock is one of my all-time favorite poems and it is included here with other works by Eliot. This is a great and relatively short way to capture the beauty of Eliot's verse.

  13. 4 out of 5

    (_.- Jared -._) ₪ Book Nerd ₪

    I re-read this and have indeed gained deeper insight from my first reading in high school. Raises questions of introspection, of mortality, of inhibitions, of regrets, of hopes, of drive, of happiness, of love, of lust, and so much more. In a word: Beautiful! Now, I leave you with the opening stanza: "S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse A persona che mai tornasse al mondo, Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Ma percioche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero, Senza tema d’infamia ti I re-read this and have indeed gained deeper insight from my first reading in high school. Raises questions of introspection, of mortality, of inhibitions, of regrets, of hopes, of drive, of happiness, of love, of lust, and so much more. In a word: Beautiful! Now, I leave you with the opening stanza: "S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse A persona che mai tornasse al mondo, Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Ma percioche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero, Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hasan Makhzoum

    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons When I was asked by BBC Culture what would be my favourite line by the great poet T.S. Eliot, this famous expression from his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock came up instantly to my mind. Not for my adoration for espresso (worship would be the appropriate term), but for being intrigued by how a simple line provides multiple figurative meanings.. http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/2015... The reference to the coffee spoon has various interpretati I have measured out my life with coffee spoons When I was asked by BBC Culture what would be my favourite line by the great poet T.S. Eliot, this famous expression from his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock came up instantly to my mind. Not for my adoration for espresso (worship would be the appropriate term), but for being intrigued by how a simple line provides multiple figurative meanings.. http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/2015... The reference to the coffee spoon has various interpretations. Many people mistakenly thinks it is just humorous. However, this expression denotes that rationality, the carefulness in the way of thinking and the moderation in taking decisions, in accordance with the essential theme of the text which is despair, leaves little space for ambitions and leads to a mediocre monotone life. The implied meaning of this expression is close to Nietzsche's (Yes, i'll mention him in every post, sue me) wonderful aphorism One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. Eliot’s metaphor indicates boredom and bitterness as through this poem the narrator is evaluating retrospectively his life and is regretting its mediocrity.. The poem, described as a drama of literary anguish, highlights the narrator's inertia, his cowardice to approach women, his ineptness and his spiritual flaccidity. With his physiological and psychic states of apathy and inertia, he evokes ”Oblomov”, Ivan Goncharov’s famous character: When you don't know what you're living for, you don't care how you live from one day to the next. You're happy the day has passed and the night has come, and in your sleep you bury the tedious question of what you lived for that day and what you're going to live for tomorrow. The poem takes a form of a dramatic interior monologue or a modernist stream of consciousness, which according to J. Harlan and K. McCoy, epitomize(s) frustration and impotence of the modern individual" and "represent(s) thwarted desires and modern disillusionment. Mr. “Prufrock”’s lassitude and defeatism are also a reminder of the Chekhovian characters. Consequently, the little quantity a coffee spoon can hold is an allusion to the little his life experiences amount to, how insignificant are the steps the ineffectual and dull "Prufrock" has taken and his frustration over the lost opportunities. “Prufrock" was incapable to take decisive actions. He has surrendered to the monotone acts and rituals (as same as we use the coffee spoon daily) and he fears to pursue change. He then uses the coffee spoon as a measure unit to assess his life, because he is diligent and meticulous and therefore doesn't dare to drop carelessly the sugar in his tea or coffee. According to a different interpretation that I have read once, a literal one that tends to separate it from the rest of the poem, a coffee spoon alludes to the social, as we spend most of our time when drinking a coffee or a tea cup in the company of other people, discussing, debating and telling our secrets.. So whenever you are nostalgic or thinking of your life, others would be present in these memories and they are the witnesses of it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The first time I heard this poem out loud, all I could say was "Wow." I haven't read much of Eliot's work, and to be honest, most of it goes over my head. However, "Prufrock" connected with me so strongly—the indecision, fear of the future, fear of doing something incredible, falling in love, the meaninglessness of life, the fear of not being worthy of affection, doom in death.... Written so eloquently, with great sadness & emptiness, this gorgeous poem voices the fears of every person doesn The first time I heard this poem out loud, all I could say was "Wow." I haven't read much of Eliot's work, and to be honest, most of it goes over my head. However, "Prufrock" connected with me so strongly—the indecision, fear of the future, fear of doing something incredible, falling in love, the meaninglessness of life, the fear of not being worthy of affection, doom in death.... Written so eloquently, with great sadness & emptiness, this gorgeous poem voices the fears of every person doesn't know how to voice. I recommend reading the poem out loud to fully appreciate the sound and rhythm. It's breathtaking.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zanna

    The Lovesong and the other works here are full of navel-gazing reflections on the inexplicable fixations and frustrations of emotional life, throwing up frequently resonant physical details, framed with a self-consciousness that sometimes cloys or annoys, and sometimes inspires deep sympathy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Read as preparation for reading and reviewing The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock: a Modern Reimagining by Sarah Daltry.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    It is an odd thing, but recently I read someone on this site say that they had always thought Eliot was English and was a bit surprised to find out that he was actually an American. Now, I’ve always thought of Prufrock as being English, but the odd thing is that now that I think about why I should believe that I really couldn’t tell you. I mean, as a cultural phenomena I think it is generally Americans who use their middle name, but keep their first initial dangling, so J. Alfred Prufrock would It is an odd thing, but recently I read someone on this site say that they had always thought Eliot was English and was a bit surprised to find out that he was actually an American. Now, I’ve always thought of Prufrock as being English, but the odd thing is that now that I think about why I should believe that I really couldn’t tell you. I mean, as a cultural phenomena I think it is generally Americans who use their middle name, but keep their first initial dangling, so J. Alfred Prufrock would seem to fit that particular cultural mould. All the same, I just can’t see him being American – he may measure his life with coffee spoons (another sure sign of American-ness, perhaps) but somehow to me the fact he also takes toast and tea carries much more weight. And it is not just Prufrock that is of indeterminate nationality – what about the fog? “The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes, Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.” Now, once upon a time I was in a library and there was this book. It was one of those books that young people are sometimes expected to read so as to learn how to read poetry. There is an idea that poetry is such a terribly strange thing that only those who have been properly instructed will have any hope of ever reading it. I was flicking through the book and there was a section on this stanza of the love song. The person who wrote the book said that Eliot is playing with the similarity of sound between ‘fog’ and ‘dog’. And since there is a similarity of sounds between them Eliot does that odd thing that poets sometimes like to, which is to get carried away and give the fog the literal characteristics of a dog. Now, this is all very clever, but the only problem is that I would be prepared to bet rather large amounts of money to say that the fog isn’t being compared with a dog at all, but rather to a cat. I know that cat doesn’t quite rhyme with fog (not even if you say it fast) – but all the same I think that it is much more likely that a cat, rather than a dog, would make a sudden leap or curl up to fall asleep or rub its muzzle on the window-panes. This is a poem about a man who has reached a certain age – an age were he struggles to even sustain his fantasies. To me this is made clear by the line after the first couplet. The poem starts in what could easily be a kind of romantic dream, in fact, the romantic images which appear repeatedly throughout the poem are constantly undermined, but always are there – Let us go then, you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky. We have been lulled (and remarkably quickly, I’ve always thought) into thinking this is going to be a certain type of poem by these two lines with their simple rhyme – which is why I think that the next line, Like a patient etherized upon a table comes as such a surprise. Of course, one is only ever etherized on a table to have something bad cut out of them. Every time Mr Prufrock starts getting a bit of a fantasy going – he might be chatting to a woman in a shawl or sniffing her perfume and saying things to her that might sound like the sorts of lines a woman listening to a man like him might even find a bit interesting - he worries that not only will she not find those things interesting, but even think that he has completely misunderstood what she is talking about. He constantly undermines his own fantasies. As a case in point: Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ... I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. We start off with what could be exactly the sort of thing that you might think a woman would find interesting to chat about – the image of men leaning out of windows and smoking in the early evening is a very potent image and one that has stuck with me for years. But immediately after thinking about this image Prufrock is plunged into a state of near total despair – it is hard to consider oneself more worthless than to imagine yourself as a pair of ragged claws – and of course that lovely piece of alliteration in which all of the 's' sounds imitate the sounds of ragged claws in their scuttling. Whenever someone tells you they are not something in a poem, well, or in a novel, or even in life itself I suspect, it is probably best to think that they may well be exactly what they claim they are not. No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous-- Almost, at times, the Fool. Given Hamlet is the literary definition of ‘he who hesitates is lost’ it is hard not to see Prufrock as being a bit of a Prince of Denmark. The fact he sees himself in terms that are even more self-deprecating does nothing to prove the negation he has set up – no matter how emphatic he is in saying No!. Just as it is also probably true that the answer to his saying, “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” is most likely going to be, “Well, no, you probably won’t.” Hamlet isn’t the only person who is referred to in this poem, and I’m not totally sure why the others are. The two biblical references, John the Baptist and Lazarus, had been, I guess, sort of forerunners to Jesus. John as the forerunner of Jesus as redeemer, and Lazarus as Jesus as resurrection. I guess that is part of the meaning – that Prufrock never feels like quite the ‘real thing’, but I don’t know if I feel totally satisfied with this reading. Of course, I’m not sure what other reading to make of these lines. Prufrock (in both cases) says he is these people so perhaps I should do the opposite here, except that the image of John the Baptist being decapitated due to the sexual desires of someone else is a hint to something I also think that is going on here for Prufrock. To be honest, I’m not sure if I understand this poem – all the same, I do feel that I get the feelings that compose this poem and I do love the images that this poem presents almost as in a slide show, and one after another. Pound said somewhere that poetry is about images, and the images here come thick and fast. It is also interesting to see how he undermines so many of the images he creates. The last few stanzas, with the mermaids singing to each other (naturally, they won’t sing to him) and combing the hair of the waves is again a very romantic vision and naturally one that is immediately undercut. There are so many things I love about this poem, there are even long sections of it that I know by heart. I feel like I’ve known this poem for most of my adult life and it is a poem that has grown with me. Like so many men, the older I get the more ambivalent I become to the idea of ‘romantic love’ – and as such this poem has become increasingly a bit of a touchstone. All the same, I can’t help feel that there will always be things about it that I simply will never understand.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samir Rawas Sarayji

    Prufrock & Other Observations is a thin volume of T.S. Eliot’s first poetry collection, which is perfect in is own way because what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up in quality. The poems are difficult to understand and they require close reading, contextual information is certainly helpful, too. The difficulty is not necessarily pretentious – depending on your definition of what constitutes pretentious literature – but a result of several influences on Eliot. This early collection Prufrock & Other Observations is a thin volume of T.S. Eliot’s first poetry collection, which is perfect in is own way because what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up in quality. The poems are difficult to understand and they require close reading, contextual information is certainly helpful, too. The difficulty is not necessarily pretentious – depending on your definition of what constitutes pretentious literature – but a result of several influences on Eliot. This early collection is influenced by the French Symbolists, particularly the poetry of Jules Laforgue, whom Eliot borrows heavily from in terms of technique and subject matter. But the influences go further, the philosophy of Henri Bergson on space and time, as well as by Ezra Pound’s and F. S. Flint’s Imagism. The longest poem is ‘The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock’, which has nothing really to do with a love song. In fact, the poet-persona of the poem is assumed to be Prufrock simply because the name is mentioned in the title; otherwise, the first person ‘I’ has no name: “Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky”. All the other poems here adopt the first person point of view, and it is not clear whether it is the same poet persona throughout or a different one. Time Bergson’s influence on Eliot is clear, with the latter’s obsessive yet intriguing use of time obvious in the bulk of the poems here. Consider again this passage in ‘The Love Song’ where time is generalized and used to speculate: There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, And time for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea. Compared to ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’, which is the most surreal poem in the collection, time is also a key factor, but in a different way. In ‘Rhapsody’, time is used as a linear marker to indicate the passage of the hours as the poet-persona makes his way home in a drunken stupor, while the images he encounters trigger his memories: Twelve o’clock. Along the reaches of the street Held in lunar synthesis. … Half past one, The street-lamp sputtered, The street-lamp muttered, … Half past-two … The poem begins each stanza this way, marking the passage of time at the start. In this manner, the reader remains involved in an otherwise fragmented journey, where the images spotted by the poet-persona and the memories associated have little in common, such as: I have seen eyes in the street Trying to peer through lighted shutters, And a crab one afternoon in a pool, An old crab with barnacles on his back, Gripped the end of a stick which I held him. Allusion Eliot’s poems are saturated with allusions, and unless one has read the classical canon of literature, many of these will pass one by. One key interest amongst critics is whether this matters in deriving pleasure and understanding of the poems. A full understanding of any subject matter will always impart a stronger and fuller appreciation of a work of art, but art speaks differently to different people, and I think if you do not know what you are looking for, then you will not miss it. I grasped some of Eliot’s references, but in no way did I know them all. And when I did read the explanations, it made little difference to me in terms of the pleasure garnered from the poems. ‘Portrait of a Lady’ begins with an epigram of Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta: Thou hast committed- Fornication: but that was in another country, And besides the wench is dead. ‘The Love Song’ alludes to Michelangelo ‘The women come and go / talking of Michelangelo’ and ends with a large swath of lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Then there are more subtle uses that do evoke an image if one were to capture the allusion. Consider the line ‘An atmosphere of Juliet’s tomb’ in ‘Portrait of a Lady’, for those who have read Romeo and Juliet, they may be able to recall the unfolding tragedy and use it to foreshadow what is about to take place between the poet-persona and the elder lady speaking to him upon his permanent departure. Eliot is lighting the spark of sorrow and pain upon the loss of a confidant – almost like losing a loved one in death. Although later on in the poem this sense of sorrow is felt, grasping the early allusion sets the atmosphere of the poem just like Juliet’s tomb sets the atmosphere of tragedy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Alienated and isolated consciousness in inane upper class cityscapes. Top tips: Prufrock, Lady, Rhapsody.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

    This poem is, I think, Eliot’s ‘fanfare for the common man’. Prufrock is the ordinary bloke in the street, and his name itself seems deliberately humdrum to set him apart from the great figures of literature: ‘No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be,’ he exclaims self-deprecatingly after a rather long passage of philosophising. But although he is no hero, Prufrock is as capable of appreciating beauty and having deep insights into the human condition as any of the exalted ones. He is rath This poem is, I think, Eliot’s ‘fanfare for the common man’. Prufrock is the ordinary bloke in the street, and his name itself seems deliberately humdrum to set him apart from the great figures of literature: ‘No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be,’ he exclaims self-deprecatingly after a rather long passage of philosophising. But although he is no hero, Prufrock is as capable of appreciating beauty and having deep insights into the human condition as any of the exalted ones. He is rather like Leopold Bloom in Ulysses in this respect. Prufrock and the greats are connected by their shared humanity. The poem, as is usual with Eliot, is saturated with literary allusion, from Donne, Dante, Shakespeare and Marvel to Chaucer, Hesiod and the Bible. A reader has to take these allusions on board to get the most out of his poems, though on the surface they are fairly accessible. You can enjoy Dante’s Divine Comedy without knowing all the ins-and-outs of Florentine power politics, but if you do pick them up you’ll enjoy it even more and catch nuances of meaning that flesh it out. In Prufrock, you can appreciate the line, ‘I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas’, without knowing that it is an allusion to Hamlet (‘for you yourself, sir, should be as old as I am, if like a crab you could go backwards’, where Hamlet is simulating madness to the old courtier Polonius). The allusions bring in other flavours and shades of meaning from the works of other writers. Another case in point is: ‘And I have known the arms already, known them all – Arms that are braceleted and white and bare (But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)…’ To know that this is a reference to the line, ‘a bracelet of bright hair about the bone’, in ‘The Relique’ by John Donne, is to heighten one’s appreciation beyond the immediate one and bring out a much fuller awareness, tying it in with other references to death and the passing of time. The epigraph in Italian at the beginning is from Dante’s Inferno xxvii 61-6, and the lines are spoken by Count Guido da Montefeltra, where he tells Dante that he will speak openly about what he has seen in Hell because he assumes that he, Dante, cannot return to earth to report what he says. This in turn connects with line 94 of Prufrock: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead, come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all…’. In Luke, Lazarus goes to heaven and asks Abraham if the rich man Dives can be sent back from Hell to tell Lazarus’s five brothers what it is like, as a warning to them (Abraham refuses). So there are many crosscurrents and connections in Eliot’s poems that bring out a deeper and fuller appreciation of them, though this can be irritating at times. Eliot himself was fully aware that he was seen in some quarters as being unnecessarily obscure and indeed pretentious, but he did not apologise for it. He defended his own perceived obscurity by reference to Dante’s Divine Comedy: ‘If you get nothing out of it at first, you probably never will; but if from your first deciphering of it there comes now and then some direct shock of poetic intensity, nothing but laziness can deaden the desire for fuller and fuller knowledge’. And again: ‘The poet must become more and more comprehensive, more allusive, more indirect, in order to force, to dislocate if necessary, language into his meaning’.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emad Attili

    Ok, here is the thing: I LOVE PRUFROCK:) Oh God! I loooooove this book. I read "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" maybe a million times! It's my favorite poem. This particular poem takes you in a journey to a world where people are asleep - just like the world we're living in today! A world so ugly, like a "“sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:” Prufrock is so sick of that world, he wants to shout, scream, and tell people that they are sinking, and that their lives are going in the wrong dir Ok, here is the thing: I LOVE PRUFROCK:) Oh God! I loooooove this book. I read "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" maybe a million times! It's my favorite poem. This particular poem takes you in a journey to a world where people are asleep - just like the world we're living in today! A world so ugly, like a "“sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:” Prufrock is so sick of that world, he wants to shout, scream, and tell people that they are sinking, and that their lives are going in the wrong direction. But! .... But he's so hesitant! He doesn't dare! He keeps saying: “Do I dare Disturb the universe?” He doesn't dare, not because he's a coward, but because he knows nobody would ever listen to him! His words would be in vain! Because he believes that people are drowning and there is no way for him to help any of them. So, he prefers to remain silent. Prufrock says: "“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown.” This book is just great. I highly recommend it. Check out my full review here: http://emadattely.wordpress.com/2014/...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eirin

    In reality 4.5 stars. The title poem gets a full five stars, undoubtedly. It was a poem I thought I wouldn't like (heaven knows why), and I read it almost by accident (the beginning is quoted in a John Green novel). I read it three times in a row, every time more blown away than the last. The other poem I absolutely loved in this small collection was "Rhapsody on a Windy Night". The last two lines made me draw my breath sharply and almost start crying. I was so shudderingly stricken by the endin In reality 4.5 stars. The title poem gets a full five stars, undoubtedly. It was a poem I thought I wouldn't like (heaven knows why), and I read it almost by accident (the beginning is quoted in a John Green novel). I read it three times in a row, every time more blown away than the last. The other poem I absolutely loved in this small collection was "Rhapsody on a Windy Night". The last two lines made me draw my breath sharply and almost start crying. I was so shudderingly stricken by the ending that I had to read the last stanza several times before I could move on. The reason the collection would "lose" half a star had that been possible, is because several of the short poems didn't do much of anything for me. I'll definitely read the collection several times though, so maybe I'll develop a stronger liking of them in the future. Also, as a sidenote - I love that I could read this for free on my Kindle through the Gutenberg Project. I urge anyone and everyone who loves poetry to go there immediatly, whether you have a Kindle or not, and read the collection. Beautiful poetry for free? We live in a wonderful world.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid. This is undoubtedly the best poem ever written, I feel so lucky I got the chance to study it, or else I am pretty sure I wouldn't have stumbled across it. Or if I had had, I wouldn't have picked it up for fear I might not be able to grasp the meaning behind it. But, amazingly, I did, I felt it in my bones which made it all the more shocking. I've been crying my I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid. This is undoubtedly the best poem ever written, I feel so lucky I got the chance to study it, or else I am pretty sure I wouldn't have stumbled across it. Or if I had had, I wouldn't have picked it up for fear I might not be able to grasp the meaning behind it. But, amazingly, I did, I felt it in my bones which made it all the more shocking. I've been crying my eyes out for an hour or so, no poem has ever had such an impact on me before. Just like Alfred, I lie to myself on a daily basis, I keep telling myself "there will be time, there will be time", when in fact, I know the opposite is rather the case. Time is unforgiving, and I am a procrastinator, there is so much I'd like to experience, but my crippling fear of life tells me I've had enough, I've seen it all. I shudder at the thought of death, at its unpredictability, at how one day it might creep on me, snickering, and in short, I am afraid.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cynda

    My most favorite parts: Motif of cat as night & Image of patient on thhe surgery table & the spider on the wall. This poem makes me go "yew....." and "exactly". The motif of the cat thrills me because it is so perfect. This cat idea has occurred to others, yet it took all these centuries, millenia, for a writer to get the imge so perfect.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Celine

    A reread of this tiny, lovely book of poetry. Even though I don't understand all of what Eliot is trying to say, I thoroughly enjoy the language. His words sound so absolutely beautiful, and a lot of his poems are very atmospheric. Some of my favourite passages: For I have known them all already, known them all Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; From "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Now that lilacs are in bloom She has a bowl of lilacs i A reread of this tiny, lovely book of poetry. Even though I don't understand all of what Eliot is trying to say, I thoroughly enjoy the language. His words sound so absolutely beautiful, and a lot of his poems are very atmospheric. Some of my favourite passages: For I have known them all already, known them all Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; From "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Now that lilacs are in bloom She has a bowl of lilacs in her room And twists one in her fingers while she talks 'Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know What life is, you who hold it in your hands'; (Slowly twisting the lilac stalks) 'You let it flow from you, you let it flow, And youth is cruel, and has no more remorse And smiles at situations which it cannot see.' I smile, of course, And go on drinking tea. From "The Portrait of a Lady"

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)

    "Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they will sing to me." O the ever so lovely and depressing love song of Mr. J. Alfred Prufrock. He is the victim of the modernist generation who wandered around aimlessly searching for meaning in life and finding nothing there. T.S. Eliot coined this generation the wasteland. Maybe I'll eat a peach. Maybe I'll wear f "Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they will sing to me." O the ever so lovely and depressing love song of Mr. J. Alfred Prufrock. He is the victim of the modernist generation who wandered around aimlessly searching for meaning in life and finding nothing there. T.S. Eliot coined this generation the wasteland. Maybe I'll eat a peach. Maybe I'll wear flannel trousers. Or be sad and sexually depressed. O the modernists...gotta love 'em! A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation.” -Stephen Crane

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sumit Singla

    We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown. I picked this up after reading references to it in 'The Fault in Our Stars' and have to say that I don't think a poem has ever affected me so much (except maybe some works by Alfred Tennyson). What beautiful imagery! What lovely, smooth, flowing poetry. I'm not sure whether it would be correct to label J. Alfred Prufrock a neurotic, or simply someone who is a little to We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown. I picked this up after reading references to it in 'The Fault in Our Stars' and have to say that I don't think a poem has ever affected me so much (except maybe some works by Alfred Tennyson). What beautiful imagery! What lovely, smooth, flowing poetry. I'm not sure whether it would be correct to label J. Alfred Prufrock a neurotic, or simply someone who is a little too occupied with his own appearance. Hence, I suggest you read the poem and make your own inferences. :)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    This is one of my most favourite books. I love T. S. Eliot. His writing, his poem...his rhythm is without equal. I will never again walk around a beach without remembering: 'Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.' It's magical and yet so real. Read it. Again. And again. You will learn something very unique about yourself. T.S. Eliot rules. 5 stars.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Finn

    I grow old... I grow old... I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach I Heave heard the mermaids singing, each to each I do not think they will sing to me

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