December 31, 2014

J. Alfred Prufrock is 100 Years Old


And still on point after all these years....The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot

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.

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 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.

Source: Poetry (June 1915).

"Prufrock's reception in London can be gauged from an unsigned review in The Times Literary Supplement on 21 June 1917. "The fact that these things occurred to the mind of Mr. Eliot is surely of the very smallest importance to anyone, even to himself. They certainly have no relation to poetry."

"Till human voices wake us, and we drown." Underway and with many surprises in store was World War One; a war so shocking to the human soul that within Eliot's mentor and partner in poetic crimes of the 20th century would write in Hugh Selwyn Mauberley

There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization.

Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth’s lid,

For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 31, 2014 8:50 AM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I have a great love for Elliott these days. It was not always thus, but anyone who could conceive that the world would end "not with a bang but a whimper" is my kind of guy.

In the past week, days really, I've argued with the love of my life, a large breasted coquette, over the meaning of Prufrock. She insisted that the references to Michalangelo were related to a woman undergoing a Gynacological exam.

Taken aback, I quereied, "How the fuck do you come up with that, honey? It's about the realism of a middle-aged man confronting the truth of his life. 'In the room the women come and go talking of Michalangelo' is about the empty-headed prattling of women. What is there to say about Michalangelo that hasn't been said?"

She told me that I was wrong, and I have since remained silent, because she is a beautiful woman, and I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be.

Posted by: Casca at December 31, 2014 11:39 AM

What amazes me the most about Prufrock is that Eliot was only 27 years old when he wrote it. If there ever was a poem that captures the 3 am thoughts and fears of middle-aged men (I'm 61), this is it.

BTW, the best Prufrock parody out there -- best because it's also serious -- is "The Love Song of J. Random Hacker" by Jeff Duntemann. Final lines:

We hackers linger by our leading edge
Forgetting what is pending in the cache
Till practice hurtles past us, and we crash.

Posted by: bfwebster at December 31, 2014 12:45 PM

Hell would be being traped on an airplane between Maureen Dowd and John Kerry trying to impress her with:

"But there was Mr. Kerry flying from Boston to New Orleans on Friday, sipping tea for his hoarse throat and reeling off T. S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

"There are so many great lines in it," he said. " `Do I dare to eat a peach?' `Should I wear my trousers rolled?' `Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets/The muttering retreats/Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels/And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells."


Posted by: Fat Man at December 31, 2014 4:39 PM

There was a time when musicians were literate.....

Paul Desmond was once asked whatever happened to the young beauties he used to show up with at gigs with Dave Brubeck. His reply was "Chicks like that end up marrying some cat that owns a factory or something. That's the way it always ends, not with a whim but a banker."


Posted by: Rob De Witt at December 31, 2014 7:55 PM

My, my. T.S. Eliot and Bliss Carman in the same issue....

Posted by: ELC at January 1, 2015 7:58 PM

Excellent work you have performed, this website is absolutely
cool with reliable information.

my web page ... [url=]Tahoe SEO Services[/url]

Posted by: Tahoe SEO Services at January 14, 2015 1:28 PM