The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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  1. 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 
    And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: 
    Streets that follow like a tedious argument 
    Of insidious intent 
    To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .                               10 
    Oh, do not ask, "What is it?" 
    Let us go and make our visit. 
    • He speaks in an unromantic way. Ether signifies comatose. The world is an inactive passive place (state of waiting).
    • The streets are half-deserted (half-empty/ he is a pessimist). The people in the streets don't even have connections. They don't go home to families. 
    • By tedious, he says there is an annoying thing he keeps getting pulled into, but he pulls himself back
  2. In the room the women come and go 
    Talking of Michelangelo. 

      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,                               20 
    And seeing that it was a soft October night 
    Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. 
    • Setting change (Michelangeo part) to a party with cultured people who like the classics and not the impressionists of hte 20th century. 
    • he uses the fog as a cat image. The London fog is due to industrialization (really smock)
    • Yet, he enjoys being alone with the cat. 
    • A foggy state is something desirable
  3. And indeed there will be time 
    For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, 
    Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; 
    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;                                30 
    Time for you and time for me, 
    And time yet for a hundred indecisions 
    And for a hundred visions and revisions 
    Before the taking of a toast and tea. 
    • This section is compared to Andrew Marvell's "There's not enough time." TS Elliot says there's more than enough time.
    • He also takes baout how everyone is false and social interaction is face (put face up)
    • "murder nad create"= lose old self to create the new
    • Monotony of every day life keep sbringing him to the question but he keeps stopping himself. Society interrupts him
  4. In the room the women come and go 
    Talking of Michelangelo. 

      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 
    Disturb the universe? 
    In a minute there is time 
    For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. 
    • The most he can decide is if he is capable of doing so. He can't even walk down the steps without people worrying and gossiping about him. He thought out exactly what he'd wear but he still feels inadequate
    • This question is bigger than marriage. He is fearful of the world
  5.   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? 
    • His life is that daily event of stiring coffee. There are voices in a distance dying (negative imagery) because he knows hte daily routine
    • Why should he ask the question if he already knows life's routine
  6.   And I have known the eyes already, known them all— 
    The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, 
    And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, 
    When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, 
    Then how should I begin 
    To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?                    60 
      And how should I presume? 
    • He is being pinned by people looking. the bug imagery
    • The poeple give you a label and make you think and wonder what they are saying about you
  7. 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!] 
    Is it perfume from a dress 
    That makes me so digress? 
    Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl. 
      And should I then presume? 
      And how should I begin?
    • He ses hte arm imagery to represent the whole of hte woman. Arms signify intimacy and closeness, which he backs away from because intimacy leads to bigger things
    • In the lamplight, the flaws become evident (reality)
  8. Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets              70 
    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
    • ragged claws and pinching denote a crab. The claws are for protection and a desire to grab and hurt
    • The silent seas contrast hte party
  9. And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 
    Smoothed by long fingers, 
    Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers, 
    Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. 
    Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, 
    Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?                  80 
    But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, 
    Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, 
    I am no prophet–and here's no great matter; 
    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. 
    • He questions whether he can tell her in these intimate mments. 
      Hte head on platter signifies John the Baptist (a great man brought down for trivial reasons)
    • The sacrifice was NBD
  10.  And would it have been worth it, after all, 
    After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, 
    Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, 
    Would it have been worth while,                                             90 
    To have bitten off the matter with a smile, 
    To have squeezed the universe into a ball 
    To roll it toward some overwhelming question, 
    To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead, 
    Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all" 
    If one, settling a pillow by her head, 
      Should say, "That is not what I meant at all. 
      That is not it, at all." 
    It returns to imagery of "To His Coy Mistress" with the rolling into a ball. WOuld Marvell's way have been worth it? He fears being misunderstood
  11. And would it have been worth it, after all, 
    Would it have been worth while,                                           100 
    After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, 
    After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor— 
    And this, and so much more?— 
    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."                   
    He has a fear of not connecting in intimacy
  12. 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. 
    He is not the main character. he is the guy who is easily used or says one line. He is the foolish advisor to the king. But he still rejects it
  13. I grow old . . . I grow old . . .                                              120 
    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 they will sing to me. 
    • The image of a peach denotes deliciousness but messiness. It connotes whether he would risk the mess to get the increadible sweetness. 
    • The image of white flannel on a beach where it can get dirty
    • They're in mermaid land but they wont sing for him. They sing of the beauty fo life, but not for him
  14.   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               130 
    Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
    Mermaids are in control of hte sea. He has a fantasy of being with them. But reality is drowning him and society is killing him. He wants to remove himself from society
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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
2013-05-01 03:09:02
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