The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a TS Eliot poem, and yes although it says love song in the title, it is not actually a love song at all. Its a worry-some poem, if such a thing exists.

The lines I have taken are as follows “Having known the evenings, morning, afternoons // I have measured my life out in coffee spoons”. On the left I have written “I do this to escape the mundane”.  This part of the poem is about repetitiveness, and how we sometimes get caught up in remembering the repetition of small mundane tasks (like drinking coffee) and how ofter we repeat these tasks.

The poem is about how this young man is paralyzed by his fear of time, getting older, aging, routine, city life and so on. His anxiety is quiet palpable, the poem is very famous.  One of my favorite parts

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—         40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare         45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

 

My piece is a response to the poem in a way. Yes I am scared of things like aging, balding is a terrifying prospect (ill give myself a 50/50 chance on escaping it), being corrupted by society, yes I worry about routine of daily life. But I use this creative expression to free myself from those constraints. Everyone should have things that allow them to do that. For TS Eliot, it was his poetry. Although his narrator in the poem (presumably Alfred Prufrock) could not escape them, he could.

In the upcoming weekend I will be hopefully putting up a few wheatpastes, so look forward to that (probably some more poetry related as well).

Here is the poem in its entirety.

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