The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot

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.

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 …

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

 

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,

And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

 

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;

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.

 

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 —

(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.

 

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;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

               So how should I presume?

 

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?

               And how should I presume?

 

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?

 

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.

 

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?

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.

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,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it towards 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.”

 

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,

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.”

 

. . . . .

 

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.

 

by T. S. Eliot


Fun Facts:

Like many of Eliot’s poems, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” makes numerous allusions to other works, which are often symbolic themselves.

  • In “Time for all the works and days of hands” (29) the phrase ‘works and days’ is the title of a long poem – a description of agricultural life and a call to toil – by the early Greek poet Hesiod.
  • “I know the voices dying with a dying fall” (52) echoes Orsino’s first lines in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
  • The prophet of “Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter / I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter” (81–2) is John the Baptist, whose head was delivered to Salome by Herod as a reward for her dancing (Matthew 14:1–11, and Oscar Wilde’s play Salome).
  • “To have squeezed the universe into a ball” (92) and “indeed there will be time” (23) echo the closing lines of Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’. Other phrases such as, “there will be time” and “there is time” are reminiscent of the opening line of that poem: “Had we but world enough and time”. Marvell’s words in turn echo the General Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, “whil I have tyme and space”.
  • “‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead'” (94) may be either the beggar Lazarus (of Luke 16) returning for the rich man who was not permitted to return from the dead to warn the brothers of a rich man about Hell, or the Lazarus (of John 11) whom Christ raised from the dead, or both.
  • “Full of high sentence” (117) echoes Chaucer’s description of the Clerk of Oxford in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales.
  • “There will be time to murder and create” is a biblical allusion to Ecclesiastes 3.
  • In the final section of the poem, Prufrock rejects the idea that he is Prince Hamlet, suggesting that he is merely “an attendant lord” (112) whose purpose is to “advise the prince” (114), a likely allusion to Polonius — Polonius being also “almost, at times, the Fool.”
  • “Among some talk of you and me” may be a reference to Quatrain 32 of Edward FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (“There was a Door to which I found no Key / There was a Veil past which I could not see / Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee / There seemed — and then no more of Thee and Me.”)
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I Sat Next To The Duchess At Tea by Anon

I sat next to the duchess at tea.

It was just as I feared it would be.

Her rumblings abdominal

Were simply phenomenal

And everyone thought it was me!

by Anon.

Happiness Week: Friday

I’ve got that Friday feeling! Other people didn’t feel that way so I tried to lead the way. Did I succeed or did I fail? It doesn’t matter because its positivity week!

WITH THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP MY WOOBAT EVOLVED INTO A SWOOBAT! 🙂

A very quiet day. Good for focusing on the task at hand. At least I spent it with nice people.

Rugby is on the television tonight. The Wales vs England game. The old enemy. Took our land. Supressed our language. Mined the minerals from beneath our homes for ‘their’ empire for a pittance in payment. No one cared for anything other than this today.  You are not a Welshman if you don’t drop everything and are obsessed with the game shouting a tthe television screen decrying the events and telling ‘your’ team what ‘we’ have to do to win. I don’t watch rugby or care about it but it is on the television and is deemed a national event. I am going to go read some short stories instead… Robert W Chambers’ The King In Yellow is this weekends choice then… Ladies love watching those muscular men in short shorts running up and down a field clutching an egg shaped ball. It is all very symbolic of what fuels their libido… The way they handle those balls you can tell they would make worthy breeding stock and care giving fathers. Shame their egos are bigger than their…

Caryl Parry Jones sums up what rugby is to the Welsh national identity with this Welsh language charity single performed by her character Cameron Jenkins (the ever injured rugby player): Ultimately Rugby is an emotional roller-coaster.

Cameron Jenkins’ charity single as part of his ‘Hwpo Fe Mewn’ appeal for the BGDB charity (Living With Dislocated Fingers).
Don’t forget about our Welsh and International rugby heroes who are suffering with dislocated fingers, because it’s an emooootional rollercoaster.

The general gist of the chorus lyrics are:

‘obviously, (you know)! / Its an emotional roller-coaster /  pop it out and then pop it back in / its an emotional roller-coaster!’

Small cuts have opened on my hands during the day but they will heal now I have time to attend to skincare. Don’t mock this concern as unmanly. Cuts can get infected and become dangerous if not attended to especially with broken skin which is no longer an effective barrier to bacteria, and viruses entering the blood stream. I assure you those rugby players spend far more time on their appearance than the average person on the street e.g. designer haircuts, spray tans, etc. And for their work having massages for physio, access and the time to use the best sports equipment for exercise and support from the top professionals in the healthcare industry. And once past their physical prime they are treated like demi-Gods walking into any pub and finding a beer, free of charge, being offered to them by the lesser orders. ‘Good bloke’ is their title no matter how much of a sociopath they are in person. ‘done great things’ – like carry a ball from one end of the field to the other. These are the modern day warriors on whom society pins its reputation. Prancing primadonnas of great height and strength who drop to the floor and spend months off ‘work’ hainv top of the line privately funded healthcare if they break a toe or finger.

Hot cross buns and tea for supper.

My cat likes to go towards the door as if to escape the house but he stops short. As much as others think he will run away I think he just wants some fresh air. I think you don’t realise how revitalising fresh air is until you don’t have access to it.


One more day of the Happiness Week… burnout. So much to do and so little time.

The week seems to have gone well. Still feel something went wrong at some point though.. No, maybe not… Just have to accept things are not a constant… Not a flat circle… Time is not a flat circle… I want to rewatch True Detective again. If I do then it proves truly that time is a flat circle:

Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.

Happiness Week: Wednesday

Remember, although today was just another average day to you, to someone this was the most important day of their life and changed who they are forever.

It was a great day with great people living their lives one day at a time.

The skin on the back of my hands cracked further. Bare knuckle brawling look to them now. I put soothing lotion on them so it’s okay. I get to wear my gloves all day tomorrow so I’m really excited because I will look cool! They’re very nice gloves. Black leather. Fleece lined. Three stitched lines across the black in a classic style and a belt buckle decoration on the wrist. Constant contact with the affected area numbs the pain. I can feel my pulse.

‘Would you like some tea?’ Sure… oh… wait… you were asking that stranger I see… That’s okay I can’t make tea for anyone anyway… The whole Chanoyu Japanese tea ceremony would take too long to perform properly anyway… Russian caravan tea for the win!

More people came to see the cat. He entertained them. Then he disappeared again once it was just the two of us. So much fun. He still has no name. He enjoys chasing and being chased but not being captured.

MY GOLBAT EVOLVED INTO CROBAT! 🙂

I saw a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ dog today. It was a mixed black, red and white furred dog. The fur of the entire left half of its head was perfectly white like the mask in the musical version (unlike the full mask Eric wears in the novel and some film versions). Also a safety conscious mother would not let her daughter go to the other side of the river to find things. They were stood by the bridge connecting the two sides. Such great maternal instinct! She could just sense danger.


So upbeat it makes my hands ache. There are still three more days of this…

Retractions: My co-worker didn’t wear a nasal excretion covered scarf… although today she wore a different scarf so make of that what you will. Also it was the ‘L’ in ‘salmon’ not the ‘D’ she was obsessed with… but I was certain it was the ‘D’ and it makes for a funnier story if it is. Spoil sport…

IMALU – UH UH: So upbeat with added ‘Engrish’ content… Wait for the stole on her shoulders to start singing. Then realise that the hunter killed one of the animal men and was cooking him… except he had turned into a Louis Vuitton padded bag… I like how open to experimentation the Japanese are with their media but at the same time I am weary of some of the excesses they allow too considering what a conservative nation they are…