Monday, February 9, 2009

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Post all responses here.
Remember, write about your overall to poem, or write about how the epigram from Dante relates to the speaker.


  1. Overall reaction to the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
    This poem had a very low, melancholy sound to it and it was rather depressing to me. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is depressing because you can really sense how depressed T.S. Eliot really was, he uses phrases that really make him seem like he was very alienated from the world. Thing such as, “I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas”, really show how alone he felt in the world, how depressed he was. Though many of the greatest artists have had emotional attachment to their art because it was their way of expressing their sad and deep emotions, I can especially feel the gloomy emotions seeping through the page. This was one of the most beautiful, yet heartrending piece of art that I have ever set my eyes on. Eliot has the same sad tone through out the poem yet, it was so full of other emotions, greed, desire, and etcetera. All of these emotions are what made the poem so great and so full of life.

  2. The theme of the poem seems to be a man reflecting on whether he should discuss his life and his experiences with another. As he does this, he ends up reflecting on the life itself and the moments that brought him to that moment. Dante's epigram talks about a man who similarly spoke of his life but only because he thought none who live to hear the tale. The speaker in Eliot's poem wonders if he dares to do the same. By the end he has concluded that the tale of his life would not be represented well enough, the emotions not captured well enough and the experiences truly understood. In contrast to Dante's character, however, he fails to tell his story not to save face but to keep the bitterness of his knowledge from the world as result of factors like alienation.

  3. Peter Washinton's (Period 7) response to "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot:

    I enjoyed the poem for its randomn thoughts and spontaneous structure. The poem can be considered as a stream of consciousness, with varying lengths of the stanzas and transitions in thought that resemble ones thoughts as they occur, rather than a planned out dialogue.

    I was also pleasured by Eliot's lack of specific information on topics such as who the poem is addressed to and what he is describing when he randomly interjects with descriptions such as the "yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes." Although many individuals might be frustrated due to their lack of being spoon fed the specifics of the poem, I am delighted that there are myriad ways to interpret the literature. Although my understanding of the poem may differ from others, that does not necessarily mean that my analysis is incorrect.

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  5. Response to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock-

    The tone of C.S. Eliot's poem is similar to the tone of Guido in "The Inferno". Though Eliots reader is obviously alive and will return to the world he goes about his monologue with the same mind set. Reading this poem one cannot help but to think everything is truthful and real. Guido says "i will answer you without fear of infamy"(61-66). I took this excerpt to be paired with the poem to communicate Eliot's thoughts on this poem. He speaks freely and without inhibitions. The poem also has a dark and crooked voice, such as " Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels". Often giving the reader a since of uneasiness. The diction taints the illusions with a dark over veil, like, " And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!/Smoothed by long fingers,/Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers," This also relates back to the parallel between Dante's poem and Eliot's. Though in "The Inferno" death is a clear state, in Eliot's poem he is in the process of said state. He says "I grow old...I grow old..." making a reference to his forthcoming state.


    As I read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” I felt a strong sense of sympathy towards the speaker. In this poem he basically talks about how old he has become and how he is inching closer to death. He also invokes sympathy from me because of how helpless and embarrassed he is about growing old: “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!”]” (Lines 38-41). It seems as though that what he is mostly concerned with is his public appearance. He doesn’t want to be seen as the old man, wondering around the party.
    And yet I almost admire how he faces this awkward topic head on. He is clearly not afraid to discuss growing old and its consequences. “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?/ I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach” (Lines 122-124). Prufrock does not dabble around this fact that he is growing old, but instead he dives right in to the topic, something I, and likely many others, think highly of in a person.

  7. When first reading this poem, it seemed as if Prufrock was only contemplating his thoughts and questioning his actions like anybody would do sometimes. With constant questions, such as "then how should I begin[?]" (59) and "how should I presume?" (61), he presents himself as one who cannot make up his mind and needs advice or a lead in the right direction. But the second time around, possibly because I was focusing more on alienation, the poem seemed a bit more depressing and lonely. Prufrock reflects on his life of struggle and frustration, yet he is not able or is unwilling to do anything about it. He is too afraid to "disturb the universe" (46) constantly repeating that "there will be time" (37). He is afraid of communicating with the society, has isolated himself from everybody, and seems to be gradually losing his courage. From my perspective, I feel that every time he tries to act upon what is necessary, he gives an excuse and lingers on in his alienation. Prufrock understands his own mentality, describing himself as "almost ridiculous— / Almost, at times, the Fool" (118-9), yet time passes and no change occurs. I have much sympathy for him for he grows old by the day and acknowledges "that [the mermaids] will [not] sing to me" (125). And without ever overcoming his alienation from society, he "drown[s]" (131).

  8. My Reaction

    "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is a fascinatingly diverse poem. The protagonist, whose identity is never thoroughly clear, is J. Alfred Prufrock, a thoroughly miserable and lonely man who is so completely accustomed to his own unhappy state that he seems almost pleased by it. I began to feel that Prufrock was so used to his own emotional being that he felt no need to change it, instead reveling in his inability to decide, noting that there will be "time for a hundred indecisions" (32).
    Eliot continues in this vein, with Prufrock musing about his own alienation by referring to people talking about him behind his back, noting "they will say" (41) and referring to himself as a slightly "obtuse" (117) courtier. At the end, he gives the saddest admission of all, that the mermaids "will not sing" to him (125).
    Prufrock is easy to relate to in many ways. He feels infinitely sorry for himself, a sin none of us can plead innocent of. He feels his own existence is pointless, that he has "measured out [his] life in coffee spoons" (51) and that he is not "Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be" (111), as if to say that he deserves nothing and has nothing. He seems to feel he has no right to "disturb the universe" (46), as though his own feelings and thoughts would never be worthy of attention from the world at large.
    Personally I liked Eliot's poem a great deal. The melancholy tone blended with an irregular style appealed to my aesthetic sensibilities. Eliot did a beautiful job of including enough rhyming to make the poem flow but not so much that it felt over-worked. He also has an unusual style, an amalgamation of classical references (Michelangelo, and a subtle nod to John the Baptist) with modern objects, such as "coffee spoons" (51) and "cheap hotels" (6). His focus on the human hatred of alienation was fascinating. It inspired me to take a closer look at my own feelings of self-worth and consider carefully the danger of allowing oneself to dwell in self-pity over such things as alienation. Prufrock clearly showed that alienation is a self-fulfilling prophecy, particularly when you indulge in feeling sorry for yourself.
    Overall I thought "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was an interesting and beautifully written poem.

  9. My first thoughts upon reading this poem were not of meaning or alienation, but simply of the exquisite imagery that Eliot imploys. The anthropomorphism in his description of the yellow smoke or fog is captivating, and the emotions evoked in the simpler of his verse ("Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?" (122)) are poignant and desperate. I especially enjoyed the description of his aging, of the loss of confidence and the scorn of others for the character.
    The second time that this poem was read to us, I concentrated more on the melancholy present in it. The lyrical verse that Eliot uses only contributes to the sense of despair given by the poem and the speaker's desolate, alienated condition.

  10. The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    I find this poem to resemble a poem from the view of man who is reminiscing his past. phrases such as "For I have known them all already" show that he has experienced the imagery he is describing. He talks not of some great past, however, he speaks of critical beings who harass him and speak ill words of his appearance behind his back: "how his arms and legs are thin!". He speaks of a past of alienation, a past where he was "not Prince Hamlet". This poem takes on a melancholy tone as the author describes these scenes of despair and alienation. This "love song" is really a cry of desperation and sadness.

  11. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

    The indecision apparent in Eliot’s poem leads to themes of alienation. It is evident that Prufrock, the speaker, does not understand his identity. This hazy perspective on himself is reinforced by the collage-like structure of the poem and the imagery of fragmented streets. Eliot writes, “Streets that follow like a tedious argument/ Of insidious intent” (8-9). He also says, “And time yet for a hundred indecisions,/ And for a hundred visions and revisions” (33-34), to show how Prufrock questions his own personality. In the next stanza, the speaker reveals his fear in expressing himself. When he finally gains the courage to do so, he suspects that he will be an old man. Rather than center on self-expression, Prufrock’s like is filled with monotony. He says, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” (51), to show how his life is a planned-out formula that even he struggles to understand.

    Prufrock’s alienation from himself is further reinforced by the alienation of the women in his life from him. He says, “If one, settling a pillow by her head,/ Should say: ‘That is not what I meant at all./ That is not it, at all’” (97-99), to show how others too cannot understand him.

    I enjoyed this poem, both for its abstract perspective and its imagery. Though its organization was confusing at first, it was a welcome change to Romantic sonnets. I especially liked the description of yellow smoke on the streets as a cat.

  12. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" written in free verse, using a style whose intention must be to create a natural flow while giving a casual background for T.S. Eliot to share his lament of an oh-so insufferable world, is not a personal favorite. The poem's mindless repetition of imagery is tiresome. Were I wanting to read about yellow fog's reaction to windowpanes three times over, I would have simply read one line thrice. But no, T.S. Eliot, probably intending some further meaning, made the same reference twice too many for me to enjoy, and perhaps one additional time more than I understood. Furthermore, his aggrieved manner throughout the poem (which seems only complimented by the character's hesitance) may be appealing to some, but to me, it aggravates. In fact, it is only with grudging respect that I bother to acknowledge lines like "Do I dare/
    Disturb the universe?/ In a minute there is time/ For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse" (45-48). I do this not becuase these lines are particularly visually striking, but becuase their sound is so melodic and easy that it assures me that this must be the style T.S. Eliot meant to convey throughout the entire work.

  13. I found this poem to be truly a wonderful composition reflecting the most of the styles of Romanticism and its underlying concepts. Prufrock, the speaker, exhibits an open response bound by no limits of his own opinion. It is an incredibly loose and free demonstration of his own personality and unrestrained opinions proved by how honest and bold he is with the constant fear of alienation due to age. He finds the courage to bring out the words other people would remark upon his figure that are simply inside his own head like "How his hair is growing thin!" and "How his arms and legs are thin!" It seemed as if this character, crafted out of T.S. Eliot's skill, made this monologue thinking that it would not ever be exposed by the light of the world and all its people, as if the lines would never be heard again. There is true honesty in the speaker's speech, and I find Eliot skillful for demonstrating that through poetry itself.

    The speaker's intentions throughout the poem also reminds me of how many people alike in society these days also ponder their decisions and images with self-questioning phrases like "Do I dare?" The subject of alienation has been in play for quite a while now in society, and age definitely acts as a major participant. As many people age and age into the later years of their life, their physical capabilities indeed barricade them from some certain activities and groups. All people share a least bit, if not a lot, of empathy with the concepts of life and living demonstrated throughout this poem. I applaud T.S. Eliot for being able to express such common meaning through a free-flowing poem of Romanticism.

  14. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

    My overall reaction to this poem was one of sadness. Prufrock writes many lines that suggest his great loneliness in the world. His line “I grow old… I grow old…” (line 120) especially touched me. The repetition in this line and the “…” after each phrase seem to carry a connotation of depression and loneliness. However, not only is he alone, he is growing old alone. He has no wife, no one to look after him to make sure he is safe, no one to make him happy. Prufrock also seems unhappy with himself and with his life. This is made clear in his line: “I should have been a pair of ragged claws/ Scuttling across the floors of silent seas” (lines 73-74). Here he seems to be criticizing himself by mentally/verbally placing himself in such a setting. It is as if he believes he doesn’t deserve to live in the world with everyone else. Prufrock also seems to have many things he wants to do, but does not dare to do. “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?” (lines 45-46): in this line, he sounds as if he would like to do so, but does not for fear of a punishment or retribution. This gave me a feeling of pity- it is as if Prufrock’s life is incomplete and will always be incomplete because he cannot muster the courage to do the things he wishes to. Overall, this poem gave me the feeling of a man who is cut off from the world and rejected by people, including himself.

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  16. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    Upon reading this piece, I was struck by the depressing and sympathetic emotions I felt towards the man. The perception I got was that the man was approaching the end of his life and was remenicing on the times he experienced. He mentioned growing old numerous times, which created a dreary and depressing tone to the poem. It was also signified that the man was alienated and lonely, causing the reader to be sympathetic. In relation to Dante's work, the two pieces relate in the sense that they both discuss death. Not only do the two authors incorporate death, but embrace the somewhat risky subject full on. However, in Dante's piece death had already occurred and was an extremely real concept. In Elliot's piece death is being slowly approached and has not yet been experience by the author. Thus, death is still an unclear concept in the speaker's mind. Though I did find the poem extremely sad, the strong point was undoubtedly the use of imagery to create this melancholy tone.

  17. Since only one other person has…

    The epigram of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    As we discussed in class, this poem deals with the narrator’s alienation. The choice of an epigram from Dante is doubly significant. The first, and less significant connection, is that, Dante, too, was alienated from society. Dante experienced banishment from his homeland of Florence. The deeper connection is that both the speakers wish to remain alienated, they want little to do with the outside world. The narrator in Eliot’s poem expresses this, choosing to go “through certain half-deserted streets” (4). This suggests his want to avoid the rest of humanity. This is further evidenced by his hesitancy to share his thoughts, asking himself “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” (45-46), his tone implying he views this as a hazardous undertaking, a negative decision if he follows through. Likewise, in the epigram from Dante, the speaker expresses that he does not want his tale to reach the outside world, stating (in Robert Pinsky’s translation) that “‘If I believed I gave / My answer to one who’d ever go once more / Back to the world, this tongue of flame would have / No motion” (XXVII.59-62). This epigram is an excellent accompaniment to the poem because it expresses such similar views.

    Additionally, the epigram may be Eliot’s way of telling the reader he is hesitant about publishing this poem. He, like Dante’s character, only tells his tale because he doesn’t think anyone will hear it (“Love Song” was one of Eliot’s first major poems). Furthermore, like with Guido da Montefeltro, even though Eliot thinks no one will hear his story, a large portion of the world does later on. I also find it an interesting coincidence that, like Dante’s “Commedia” gained him a place in history as a major poet, this poem was the start of Eliot’s career.

    *Commedia is in quotes because italics/underlines don’t work on blogspot

  18. After we have spent so much time reading over many Romantic poems, beginning to gloss over their focus on nature and their descriptions of emotions and connections between emotions and nature, Eliot's poem, with its lack of obvious imagery or meter, is something of a relief. Prufrock--for we can only guess that Prufrock is the speaker here--prattles. He moves from concept to abstract concept as he pleases, throwing in a rhyme here or an iambic statement there or repeating something for interest. He is a contemplative, somewhat melancholy fellow, though he is not expressing outright dejection here--just awareness of a barrier that has presented itself between him and his fellow man.

    The misunderstanding idea comes up multiple times, in the more obvious line "It is impossible to say just what I mean!" (104) and in the "That is not what I meant at all" segments. I have recently experienced a lot of frustration with this sort of situation, being utterly unable to express some concept I've been musing on for the past long while or explain an emotion or sensation, so it is impressive to me that he manages to handle it with more of an "Ah, I knew it would turn out this way" attitude.

    Then again, perhaps his resigned tone with regard to misunderstandings is subtly indicative of a deeper despair, one that--relevantly enough--could never be expressed properly.

    Prufrock is aging. He knows this, and he knows others know it too, because he can foresee their comments on his thinning hair or bony limbs. He knows much but cannot find--or cannot be bothered to find, we may never know--any way of putting it that we could easily apply to our own lives or learn from. Instead, he opts for a stream of consciousness, image after abstract image, and now and then drops a hint as to what he is feeling:
    "I should have been a pair of ragged claws,
    Scuttling across the floors of silent seas..." (73-74)
    "And would it have been worth it, after all,
    Would it have been worth while..." (99-100)
    "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
    I do not think that they will sing to me." (124-25)

    I cannot help but feel that something either has been lost or was missed early on, leaving Prufrock now with an empty sort of feeling. It certainly gives me a nagging sense of desolation to read it, though I cannot put my finger on why.

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  20. When I read this poem and heard it read aloud by Anthony Hopkins, the image that popped into my head my was that of Brooks, a character from "Shawshank Redemption". Brooks is an old man in prison, who, upon getting released on parole, discovers that he cannot keep up with the fast pace of the real world. He is depressed, and lonely, and tired of life. This is how I view J. Alfred Prufrock in the poem. He feels lonely and misunderstood, treated like an old man even though he is just beginning to age. He has the resigned wisdom that comes with living a life full of regrets and dissatisfaction, but knowing there is no longer anything that can be done. What has been accomplished in life thus far is all that will ever be accomplished. Its a sad an melancholy prospect that will almost certainly find us all in our middle age, when we realize our lives are over.

    So Prufrock wanders the streets alone, noticing the mundane goings-on, taking in all the gloomy and unfulfilled expectations that hang in the air like yellow fog. It's a sad and terrifying thought to feel so alienated and detached from the world--to feel as if there are thoughts in your head that are inconceivable to the rest of the world, and the weight of them is suffocating.

    I guess in modern unpoetical terms I would say Prufrock is going through a midlife crisis. He is scared of the possibility that no one will remember him when he is gone. least that's how I interpreted it.

  21. This poem over all leaves behind a sense of melancholy. The speaker uses numerous words that provoke sadness within a reader. He alludes to imagery to allure the reader into this realm of melancholy. The alienation, as we mentioned in class, is prominent through out. In the second line, for example, he describes the night sky as “the evening” spreading out “against the sky”(2). Using the words spreading out place a feel of vastness at the beginning of the poem. This vastness symbolizes his alienation, for he feels as if he was in a wide empty space that evokes loneliness. The fourth line, which reads, “Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets”(4) helps prove of his solitude. The word “deserted” alone is sign of his isolation from the outside world.

    Through out the poem, also he uses the phrase, “ window-panes”(5), which signify the speaker behind glass. The line, “Upon the window-panes”(15) portrays the speaker as a man who is only looking through glass, or behind glass. He observes behind the window that he desires and what he doesn’t have. When he finally decides to move beyond this secluded phase he presents “a face to meet the faces”(27) he meets. This is shows a rather pretentious side of the speaker. He is presenting a false face for fear, maybe, of not being welcomed. T.S. Elliot allows the reader to see how the speaker thinks so little of himself. Line 125, “I do not think that they will sing to me,” serves as evidence to this too. Self-doubt leads the speaker to feel shame and shyness, therefore leading up to his isolation.

    After reading the poem, I was left feeling his sadness and loneliness. Together with these, T.S. Elliot left me feeling a somewhat slight depression. It was his appeal to sad words and phrases that led me to feel this way.

  22. Response to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

    The mundanely melancholy tone that Eliot uses evokes sympathy in the listener. This begins in the first stanza, wherein Eliot writes, “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,” (Lines 3-9). Eliot writes as if he has experienced these things many times, as he describes them in great detail, and is becoming weary of the redundancy of life.

    The prolixity of the poem underscores this view of his. He repeats his description of the “yellow smoke” twice. He repeats his description of how “the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo,” (Lines 13-14) twice. He repeats the question, “Do I dare?” four times. He repeats how he has “known them all” six times. He repeats the idea that “there will be time” for everything is repeated eleven “times.” This seemingly pleonastic poem emphasizes how tired he is with his life and the questions he must ask himself of how society will accept him and his actions, like when he writes, “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!’]” Eliot has become exhausted with the trivial things that society uses to judge a man.

    Additionally, through the style of his repetitions, he suggests that while some things change slightly in the world, more things remain the same. The phrase “The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,” (Line 15) is slightly different from “The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window panes,” (Lines 16) but it has the same meaning. The line “In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo,” (Line 13-14) however, remains the same as when it shows up later in lines 35 and 36.

  23. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    Philosophy is often considered to be a somber pursuit, and it seems that Eliot would agree with this assertion. Though the characters and locations of the poem drift about with no semblance of consistency, I found that the two key themes were philosophy and mortality. The character narrates all elements of the world, from the overarching nature of the city to the smallest details of the spirit of October fog, and yet through all of this chaos he repeats the mantra "In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo". To me this is paints the picture of the philosophers and the world they are considering, the world spins around them in a whirlwind of strange, terrible, and wondrous happenings. whilst they remain in "the room" talking about art and the meaning behind the whirlwind outside. Eliot laments a bit about the contrary nature of "the room", speaking almost sarcastically about discussing moments of crises after tea, and cakes, and ices. He speaks with as much concern over how he is regarded in society for his bald head and skinny limbs as he does of his impending death. After a while however, he begins to focus more on the subject of mortality. He explains his fear for his own end, and questions the value of knowing all things (as he claims to do) when his greatness is doomed to eventually falter either way. At the end of the poem, and at the end of the characters life, he grows old. His final thoughts are of the surreal mermaids "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 feel that this quote is a metaphor for life, we linger in the room, and talk of art and immortal things, things meant to be out of reach like mermaids and the answers to life, and then our humanity awakens us to mortality, and we die.

  24. As I listened to Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", I was surprised by its melancholy subject. Its title leads you to believe the poem is full of love and happiness, when it is actually about sadness and loneliness. I felt extremely sorry for Prufrock because I think it's easy to fall into a trap of self-alienation. Prufrock feels so misunderstood and alone that he distances himself from those around him. It does, however, make sense to be that this work of literature is a poem. Poets are known for being tortured souls, so it seems plausible that Eliot could be transferring some of his own feelings of loneliness onto Prufrock.


    Initially, I was amused by the speaker because it appeared to me that he was discussing his experiences at a brothel. He discusses such things as "restless nights in one-night cheap hotels", how "in the room the women come and go", and his familiarity with a large majority of the women at the brothel. My reaction, however, quickly changed as I read Nate Bieberdorf's thoughts on the poem as he discussed how he sympathized with the speaker "because of how helpless and embarrassed he is about growing old". Once again, though, my reaction returned to one of amusement because thoughts of old men and brothels reminded me of the recent box office hit "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in which the physically old Button has his first sexual encounter at a brothel. The poem itself, however, is very depressing and progresses in this manner from beginning to finish as the speaker alienates himself.

  26. As I read the poem, I was felt like the speaker was sad, or at least melancholy. It seems like the whole poem is telling a story of someone getting older, and how all the things around them are changing, leaving them behind in the dust. They don't sound particularly unhappy about it, just very depressed about this realization. I thought it would be a good poem to read on a rainy day, but it has a few lines where it has a few specks of happiness to it. I found it much more entertaining and meaningfull when I heard it read by the british man durring class. I think that it is one of those poems where it takes on a slightly different meaning when different people read it. The overall idea is the same, just different lines sound more or less joyfull or dispirited. It's a lovely poem, but I think it should be read in moderation.

  27. I was surprised by the many melancholy aspects of this poem. Not only did Eliot refer almost constantly to being separated from everyone- from their dislike of his thin hair and his skeleton-like frame, to the mermaid who "will not sing to [him]" (125). It appeared that th speaker put himself in his current situation by not beliving in himself, believing that his peers were so much better than he was. In questioning everything that he does, the speaker makes it impossible for anyone to relate to him, furthering his alienation. But by creating this image of himself that was so separate from society, he is able to truly express himself. He is "not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be," (111)but the speaker isn't trying to be someone that he isn't. He may be alienated from all his peers, and he may have created much of this distance himself, but the speaker isn't trying to overcompensate and become someone he isn't in order to fit back in with society.

  28. In Eliot's poem, the consistent feeling of alienation was what left the poem was such a dispirited feeling. Emotionally, the section of the poem that stuck out the strongest to me was when Eliot writes that Prufrock feels isolated, but that he does not expect anything more. For example, Eliot writes, "I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be." Also, the phrase, "I grow old … I grow old …" makes the speaker feel even more abandoned then before.
    Another interesting part of the poem was comparing it with our recent Romantic poems and how Eliot's Modern style of poetry moves further away from nature imagery and focuses stronger on self reflection

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  30. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    My first reaction to this was that it was an extremely depressing poem. I felt pity towards the speaker who was so afraid that he spent most of his time worrying, "Oh, do not ask, "‘what is it? (11).'" He contemplated his every move, and felt nerve-wracking fear. At first I thought that he was a worthless figure just wandering around. Upon further inspection I saw that the speaker had many quirks and unexpected twists to him. For example, I really enjoyed the quote: "I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled (121)." I also felt empathy towards the speaker because he claimed that he "measured out my life with coffee spoons (51)." Just to get by during the "evenings, mornings, afternoons (50)" he had to drink coffee. This was probably because he felt so pitiful that he needed something to drive him to not want to crawl up and die.

  31. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    When we first read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” I expected a poem at least remotely related to what the title called for – a love song. Instead, the word ‘love’ is never used or directly referenced throughout the entire piece. The speaker, presumably a man named Alfred Prufrock, describes women chatting about Michelangelo, smoke, arms, eyes, Salome, crabs, Hamlet, and everything else besides the content of the title. A little surprising, but I found the poem both sporadic and refreshing. Throughout his erratic cycling of subject matter, Prufrock conveyed a sense of detachment from whatever he talks about. Though “In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo” (13-14), and tea time often comes around with “tea and cakes and ices” (79), Prufrock observes but does not take part. He remains uninterested in the society around him, instead wondering if he can “presume” or “dare” convey his own thoughts to an unreceptive world. The speaker exhibits some preoccupation with aging, but he imagines that those in attendance would say, “That is not what I meant at all./ That is not it, at all” (97-98), completely uninterested in his ideas, and so keeps his mouth shut. In the poem, with its irregular jumping from one thing to another, Prufrock seems to allow his repressed words to come out. Unattached from humanity, Prufrock worries about how humanity might react to the real him, and it’s a sad prospect.
    I found individual sections of the poem to be intriguing as poems of their own. The speaker gave a yellow fog the semblance of a dog who “licked its tongue,” “rubs it muzzle”, and “curled once about the house, and fell asleep” (15-25). Polluted fog is usually not cast in the best of light, but the speaker of the poem gave the haze doglike, appreciable qualities. In the middle of the poem, Prufrock speaks aside, saying “I should have been a pair of ragged claws/ scuttling across the floors of silent seas” (73-74). Not many people admit, even to themselves, a hidden opinion that they should have been born a crab. Odd anecdotes/ sections such as these, spliced together make up the poem, and it makes for an erratic, but interesting effect.

    Victoria Cui

  32. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    Upon first reading the poem, it seems like a stream of random thoughts written down as the speaker thinks them. After further analysis, however, the protagonist, turns out to be a confused man who is an outsider who wonders "Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?/In a minute there is time/For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse." J. Alfred Prufrock is a confused man who is not sure about how important he is. He regrets every decision he makes, and has no self confidence in either appearance or actions. Because he has no self-confidence, there is no reason for others to give him any, so he becomes ignored and excluded from society. This rejection makes the reader pity the protagonist, but at the same time realize that he is just an average person with no areas of excellence.

  33. This poem almost seems more real and life-like than the Romantic poems. You can see where Eliott digresses, but it fits and gives the poem more life, "I grow old... I grow old.../ I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." That is my favorite line in the poem because its human and funny. That line speaks more for humanity than many of the Romantic poems. The Romantic poems tried to do this by using lots of metaphors, but Eliott acheived that level of description by simply writing a couplet that displays human emotions and desires.

  34. My Reaction
    Though we have read poems entitled “Dejection: an Ode”, “Stanzas Written in Dejection”, and “Ode on Melancholy” “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was by far the most dejected and melancholy of the bunch. A poem titled in such a way to bring on thoughts of love and subsequently joy was actually completely encased in selfish thoughts of the speaker which contrasts strongly with the idea of love which is about giving and sharing. This poem, which is one of the most highly respected pieces of literary art, has such a horrible message that it completely enthralls me. I am not arguing that all art must be happy, for life is not so and beauty is often most obvious in despair, but I still find it shocking that the most optimistically titled piece is truly the most depressing. T. S. Elliot was so extremely depressed and dejected, which is obvious in his inability to put himself out for the world to take, constantly asking “Do I dare”. His inability to fend for himself though controversial and different from many people’s everyday life, which allows the poem to be so, ironically, daring, completely distracts me from the literary beauty. The dejection and despair of this man, unable to reach out to the universe is so highly painful that it actually takes away from the beauty of his words, leaving me feeling only sorrowful instead of properly reverent in accordance with his mastery of language.

  35. The first thing I noticed as I read the poem was the contrast that sticks out between adjacent stanzas and even within stanzas. One example of such a contrast is the stanza in which J. Alfred Prufrock remarks that he "measured out my life with coffee spoons". In the previous stanza, the speaker asks deep philosophical questions such as "Do I dare / To disturb the universe?" The juxtaposition of careful planning with uncontrolled and unpredictable chaos gives great contrast. Another example follows shortly in the poem. One stanza contains: "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?" The following stanza gives pictures of beauty and sophistication. While the first stanza gives a somewhat repulsive image with words such as "wriggling" and "butt-ends", the latter uses "braceleted" and "perfume from a dress". This conflict throughout the poem echoes the confict that was going on in the world at the time of its writing.

  36. This poem really blew me away. I was expecting a stereotypical love poem, not a piece of writing that has depth and insight. It was enjoyable to discover new meanings in the phrases each time it was read, and astonishing to want to know more about this character. I am still very confused about the title, but otherwise I very much approve of this poem. One thing that I especially enjoy about this poem it the way the author has the stanzas at different lengths. One is seven, the next eight, and the another two lines long. It makes it feel like he is not following any set of rules, which makes the read all the more interesting. Although the subject matter is generally considered depressing, the way the poem was written did not make the tone overly despondent. True, there was a little morose, regretful feel, but it was mostly consumed by a tone of insight, curiosity, and longing in an almost satirical way. Judging from this poem, I think I will thoroughly enjoy this next section on modern poems.

  37. "The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is written from the perspective of a very unhappy man who does not know what to do about it and so decides to simply sit around and continue to get old. While reading the poem, it is rather entertaining to see what kind of things are being mentioned such as "a patient etherized on a table", 'yellow fog that rubs its back on the window panes", and saying "I should have been a pair of ragged claws". It was the second time through that the more depressing points that I had only slightly noticed the first time sunk in. This poem may say some crazy things but it also gives off the impression that the speaker may very well be crazy. This turns the crazy comments in to melancholy statements from this poor person's mind. Many things he says point to the loneliness of Prufrock while others point to his insanity and even more point to his aging and perhaps a close call with death. For us it is sad to think abut a person in this state and it is all worse because the title led us to believe that what we would hear would be much more positive. The let down makes it even more depressing for us than it may have been otherwise.

  38. After reading this poem a dozen times, I feel some sympathy for the character that T.S. Elliot portrays. He is not a handsome man, but a man "with a bald spot in the middle of [his] hair". His self-pitying tone leads me to believe that he is talking, or thinking, to himself. The feeling he has of people talking behind his back is possibly just in his mind. The speaker is only contemplating what could happen and not what certainly would. I feel that he is the reason for his own isolation and his own unhappiness. If only the speaker would be more comfortable in his skin, he could be happy. Maybe most, or all, unhappiness is self-inflicted.

  39. This poem made me feel powerless and unable to really control anything for two reasons. The first is the pain of growing old and ones inability to do anything about it. The main character is rejected by both himself and the people around him because of his old age. People exclaim how his “arms and legs are too thin” no matter how he dresses, it seems that people see his old age before the see him. However, most of the melancholy of age he creates himself. He does not seize the day because, despite, or perhaps because of, the number of coffee spoons he may have used, he still does not have confidence, and constantly says to himself, “do I dare?” The second, and more profound to me, source of depression is the apathy that he shows because he has realized how much time there is in the world. He discusses mustard gas without commenting on what it does to people, only on the way it hangs around buildings, because things will change, and there will be time for it again. His lack of confidence is also in part caused by the power of time, for “a minute will reverse” whatever he does.

  40. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – T.S. Eliot

    I enjoyed reading this poem, despite the slightly depressing tone of the poem. The devices of sound (consonance, assonance, rhyme scheme) made for a lovely rhythm, quite pleasing to the ear, when read aloud. In the poem, the speaker often asks questions such as, “‘Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?’” (45-46), doubting his judgment and place in the world. The speaker also constantly complains of his aging and loss of hair when he says “I grow old…I grow old…” (120) showing his displeasure with his current situation. There remains an element of powerlessness to change his future because no matter what he does, he cannot reverse his own aging.

    However, the speaker also gives the reader encouragement not to make mistakes. He wonders “would it have been worth it, after all,/ Would it have been worth while” (99-100) if he did indeed have cared so deeply about every detail of his life and if he mourned each and every loss of youth. For this reason, I believe that the message is also one that encourages a person to find daily pleasure, even in the little things. As the speaker emphasizes at the end, “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?” (122). Here, he speaks of trivial things in his life that he has ultimately learned to embrace. Sometimes the little decisions can cause happiness, even ephemerally, which can make the tedium of life more bearable.

  41. This poem was at first extremely confusing. I'm not going to pretend it made absolute clear sense to me when we first read it, or even after I read it a couple of times. I'm not good at poetry and reading this poem really threw me for a "loop" I suppose. I was confused. Why did the women walk discussing Michelangelo or was the yellow smoke a metaphor for something else? What was he presuming? What was about to begin? These were all questions that came to mind. Then certain aspects of the poem really struck me. Why was the speaker, a man, so alienated by everyone else? He was the man who had a bald spot whose arms were particularly thin, even if his tie was very rich. People separated themselves from him and I believe the speaker recognized that too as he begins separating himself from "they." He is a separate being from the "universe". The only times where he is accepted are when he says "you and me." Other than that, no one includes him. I believe he is saddened at being alone and craves company because the poem takes a happier stance when Eliot begins mentioning "you and me." When he is no longer alone, the poem is also affect in that it feels more confident. Brighter. Almost like a teenager reacting to who he is, "Alfred Prufrock" (I assume that is who it is. >_<) is trying to discover who he is and at the same time worries over society's reaction to who he is. Does he dare show who he truly is? Can he begin showing who he is? It's another part of the poem that really struck me.
    Weirdly enough, my favorite part of the poem was "Do I eat this peach?"
    It has almost nothing to do with the rest of this poem, much like the rest of the very spontaneous part of the poem, and yet it struck me the most. A peach?! I wanted to exclaim. Where did that fit in? And yet, at the same time, it's strangeness almost makes it fit in even better to the poem. I really enjoyed this poem because it was very different.

  42. The title lead me to believe that the speaker of the poem would be declaring his love for a woman. I couldn't have been more wrong. After further reading of the poem, I was able to understand the isolation, self-loathing, and anguish the speaker was feeling. His recurring references to his bald spot and the line "I grow old... I grow old..." reflect the cause of these emotions- age.

    Always questioning, doubting, and degrading himself, he believes that he should be a "pair of ragged claws/Scuttling across the floors of the silent seas." Though I was able to somewhat empathize with Prufrock, I couldn't fully connect with a character whose age disturbs him so much, he wishes to condemn himself to the lowest depths to roam in solitude forever. This may be due to the fact that I have yet to experience the trials of old age, as the words themselves are still effective.

    I found that the tendency for the speaker to greatly dramatize reality was a major factor in invoking emotion from the reader. For example, in the lines, "Do I dare/Disturb the universe?/In a minute there is time/For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse," he exaggerates the impacts of his decisions and exaggerates the length and effect of time. Such instances of dramatization further illustrate the severity of the speaker's anxiety.

    Overall, a powerful poem with a very intriguing character at its focus.

  43. I almost laughed out loud upon hearing lines 120 and 121, "I grow old... I grow old.../ I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." The speaker has comprehended his age, and the isolation it causes him. He has dared to wear what the young would not, and has wrinkled his garb, exposing the skinny elder legs beneath. The speaker is at peace with what he is, although he may be the only one at peace with it, and it makes the poem comfortable. Any feelings of loneliness towards the speaker, to me, are canceled. It seems that he is not alone in his state, for he begins and ends the poem with first person plural, "let us go".

  44. T. S. Eliot's poem is an emotional experience mostly because of its narrator--a man obviously closer to dying than having been born. In a way, the narrator is not childish but child-like in his renewed appreciation for things somewhat less than ideal--real, in short. In the first stanza, the narrator invites us to "go, through certain half-deserted streets, / The muttering retreats / Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels / And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells" (4-7). A similar feeling is related in the German film "Der Himmel ueber Berlin" ("Heaven over Berlin", although its English title is "Wings of Desire"), whose plot is the story of an angel longing to experience real life in all its familiar--comfortable--discomfort. This is a moving celebration of life, and I cannot help being drawn in.

    The repeated line, "In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michaelangelo", reminds me of the emphasis in Aristophanes' "Lysistrata" on weaving. Just as Lysistrata makes the analogy that the state and the colonies should be woven together to "weave itself a good, stout tunic", so this line weaves together different sections of this poem. It seems apt that this line is used because not only is it constant but so also is its subject matter. It is not so much that the women are doing the talking, nor that they are speaking of Michelangelo, but that they are talking and coming and going, something that happens perpetually. This is an apt addition to the poem, and a charming one.

    Though there are other charming turns of phrase, I cannot list them all. I can say that this poem is stunningly beautiful in its celebration of life.

  45. Like several other people who posted above, I found that what I expected the poem to be like (based on its title) and what it actually was were two very different things. I expected a love poem extolling the beauty or the virtues of some woman long forgotten. Instead, I heard one of the most beautiful poems I have read for any class, a poem with seemingly disconnected stanzas and imagery, but one that flows nevertheless. Eliot takes the everyday questions of life, like “Does what I do really matter?” and turns them into something more, a feeling to be explored and pondered from an outside standpoint. We can see examples of this when the poet asks, “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?” (122) and “Do I dare/Disturb the universe?” (45).

    This poem seems like the ramblings of an elderly man, and indeed the poet tells us “I grow old… I grow old” (120). The first time I glanced over this, I felt a lack of organization or focus in the poem. Eliot flits from one subject to the next, from the mundane to the insubstantial, talking first of his bald spot and then asking, “How should I begin?” and often combining the two, as when he says “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” (51). Upon reading it a second time, and then again, I see that the structure of his poem is like life- it doesn’t always make sense as you go through it, but looking back it somehow manages to pull together (please excuse the simile). The way that Eliot deals with the organization of the poem adds to the impression that he is beginning to grow old.

    I loved this poem for its understandable character, its unusual organization, and many other reasons I cannot begin to describe or identify.

  46. In "The Love Song," Prufrock invites the audience to join him in his dismal recollection of his life in the first line. He talks about petty or insignificant things from there, like fog and gossip, that were present in his past. He also talks about questions still unanswered and even things that affect everyone, like time. Both in Dante's epigram and in Eliot's poem does this idea of journeying through time and thus through life relate to death. Dante's speaker tells of how traveling into dangerous realms will probably kill him. The speakers are similar because they both fear the thoughts of others. This self-awareness allows Dante's speaker to tell his tale, "Without the fear of infamy." Prufrock, on the otherhand, after reviewing his life, can remember only how others felt about him, such as the ladies who comment about, "how his arms and legs are thin!"

  47. Response to The Love Song

    When the recording of this poem was first played, I thought the speaker’s voice was a contradiction to the title and the first stanza. The beginning of this poem lured me into believing that it would be a scandalous tale of a young couple starting off their lives together, away from the world they know. The voice, as the class had been warned of, was a monotone from an old man, who not only seemed to lack even one romantic bone in his body, but also have a tone that suggests that he was troubled, possibly from a past romantic-ish person or event. This theory is neither proved nor disproved, for the character in the poem goes on to illustrate a creepy night, which could mean that he was describing a place that matched what mood he was in, pointing to a past event that lead to his problems, or he could have just been stating what he physically saw around himself. However, he also questions his future actions, implying that he does not want to make a mistake or take any chances because of something that happened in the past, therefore leading to the conclusion that he was heartsick over a certain person or thing. This also makes me believe that the character does have a romantic side, he just does not want to show it, for he was hurt or scared last time it was seen, and does not want to have the same slipup.

  48. When I read this poem I was struck by how beautiful it was written, despite the fact that it addressed a very dark and depressing feeling of alienation. I was moved in a powerful way, even though I had a difficult time relating to it. The poem seems to be less of a statement with a conclusion and more of a constant stream of thoughts, which I find to be a beautiful way of writing that just is not used enough.
    I also was struck by the way there seems to be a lack of pattern, but you can easily identify themes that repeat, for example the use of the phrase "In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo," which is repeated twice in the poem, also the use of the phrase, "And how should I presume?" is repeated twice. It is an interesting pattern, that I thought was rather genius.
    I think that one of the greatest things about this poem is that it has an extremely unique way of expressing an emotion. It truly seems to be one of a kind.

  49. After reading this poem and considering it carefully I disagree with many of my classmates above, I don't think this poem is melancholy or sad. I think it is nostalgic for the days of youth, beauty, and talent, and it longs for a more perfect world where age doesn't descend upon all of us, but in the end it accepts defeat, knowing it won't be able to change any of this. This poem is about questioning and challenging oneself, not even necessarily on anytihng important, but just as a way to break out of the ordinary. It is a gorgeous example of how free verse is supposed to be written.

  50. I really enjoy this poem. With every stanza I can feel tension rise and fall with the last line. Time is an important idea in this poem, his indecisiveness made obvious with his questions, " should I presume?" (61), and " should I begin?" (69). "There will be time" (26), he emphasizes, because he needs it if he's going to be so indecisive: "and time yet for a hundred indecisions,/ and for a hundred visions and revisions" (32-3). Second-guessing himself in his old age he keeps asking questions and making jabs at his appearance and sorry state. But I love his use of common objects alongside historical figures, "one-night cheap hotels" (6), and "Michelangelo" (14), "window-panes" (15) and "Prince Hamlet" (111). I love the animalization of the yellow fog, that "Curled once about the house, and fell asleep" (22). Lastly I like how he plays with the important matter of time, especially the phrase, "Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?/ In a minute there is time/ For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse" (45-8). I just love the twists and turns, the alliterations, and the combinations of choppy and long sentences.


    When we read this poem, I expected it to be a happy story about love, and all the wonderful things Mr. Prufrock had going on in his life. Instead, it was J. Alfred Prufrock reflecting on what he'd done with his life. He's grown self conscious as he's grown old. He often asks "Do I dare?" Does he dare to put himself out there? He talks about a doorman who takes his coat and snickers, and how that makes him afraid. He obviously is very scared about what others will think of him. And it seems that when he does put himself out there, he feels pinned against a wall. Ultimately, all this questioning and indecision about how to live his life leads to him fearing reality, which is apparent at the end where he says that when "the human voices wake us, [] we drown." The human voices, reality, are practically drowning poor Prufrock. I think this poem is absolutely beatiful, especially with the somewhat complex emotions the poet manages to express in it.
    Also, the image of fog rubbing it's back against the window is wonderful!

  52. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    I enjoyed this poem for it's ability to depict a person that has problems. Eliot beautifully gave us a story and along with it the perfect words to imagine the character and the depression he suffers. The speaker, a middle-aged man feeling hopeless and alienated, he talks of the changes happening to him and his thoughts on them and the way others view him. He is too worried the thoughts of others and wonders whether to change, "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!"].../Do I dare disturb the universe?" but even though he feels strong about the way people look at him, he doesn't change. He simply gives up. This poem has a great sense of emotion.

  53. Amy Anderson

    This poem seems regretful and sad. The poet regrets that he cannot live in the dream he describes with “sea girls wreathed with seaweed” (130). He acknowledges that things cannot be changed, at least by him. He asks “Do I dare?”(46) many times, as if he is completely unsure of everything, as if in a dream. He also feels meaningless, as he describes himself as nothing more than “an attendant lord”(112). This poem makes me want to go out and do something important, so that I don’t end up in the same position the author did, old, meaningless, and afraid to do anything.

  54. Immediately, my reaction to Prufrock’s perspective was of pity, as he is clearly lonely in the poem, an idea already discussed on the topic of alienation. Prufrock establishes the rather common emotion of feeling small in a much larger world, which, as he asks, “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?” (45-46) makes the reader feel sorry for his irrelevance. Despite this tone that I originally perceived as one of depression, Prufrock eventually becomes less unfortunate in the reader’s mind, and more enviable, as he becomes at peace with his situation. Prufrock accepts his alienation, realizing that “I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be” (111). Therefore, I do not find the poem to be depressing, and my initial reaction to pity Prufrock was out of line, as the poem can inspire the reader to, if not improve it, at least acknowledge their place in the universe.

    --Alec Herskowitz

  55. I really enjoyed the poem. It was nice to listen to and it had a nice flow. I did feel bad for J because he was so self conscious and it seems that he cannot communicate what he wants to say to any one else. he worries that if he says something someone will take it as something that it is totally not. So not only does he suffer from a problem with communication, but he is also a balding old man! life pretty much sucks for him, and he is scared of people laughing at him for something that he cannot do anything about. He is stuck balding, and instead of talking to people he observes them, noting that they are talking about him. instead of doing anything, he just takes it. Kind of sad, but at the end it kind of picks up a bit. who doesn't like the beach? but he is afraid he will be rejected by things that don't really exist (the mermaids)
    i really did like the poem though...

  56. I enjoyed this poem quite a bit. I felt empathetic for the man because the way he described his life was almost depressing as he passed by and only observed by others, rather than spoken to or interacted with. But later in the poem is where he loses me. I feel as if he's going a tad loco with the whole mermaid stanza. But I guess it sticks to how the poem was suppose to come of. I feel the point was to exaggerate the desperation as well as the alienation Prfrock felt and even the strange stanza about the mermaids followed that theme. Over all i found this poem very entertaining.
    Though when we listened to the recording, it freaked me out a bit because i can never listen to that guy's voice without thinking about 'Silence of the Lambs'. But that had nothing really to do with the poem...

  57. The poem seems optimistic in one sense but regretful in another. The poet regrets not having done the things he can not do now in his youth, writing, "Do I dare?" He questions his capabilities and he regrets becoming old and losing his former appearance. This is evident in the lines "I grow old … I grow old …" and, "With a bald spot in the middle of my hair- [They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
    He is optimistic about the rest of his life, and by the end of the poem he accepts his fate. This is evident in the lines "And there will be time," clearly stating he the time he has left on this earth could be fulfilling. Or at least as fulfilling as an old man in "white flannel trousers" can make it.

  58. I think the speaker wants to do something important, but is so afraid of the effects of his actions he has trouble doing so. He makes even the question "Do I comb back my hair?" an overwhelming choice in which he cannot know the full results, yet still feels responsible. He also says we should make "hundreds of revisions" before "time for tea and toast", as if having tea is a monumental decision that will change the universe forever. He even asks "Do I dare change the universe?". I think he is so afraid of his actions and their outcomes that he finds it difficult to do whatever it is so important, probably express some romantic feelings he has as suggested by the title "love song". He seems to have accepted this fate that he cannot live his dream.

  59. Admittedly, when I first read this poem, I paid absolutely no attention to the speaker, his emotions, or his message at all. I was too interested in Eliot's actual writing style. His clever rhymes and effective use of "oyster shells" were too much. His dreamy, whimsical writing style was what initially struck me as romantic, the content was almost obsolete.
    When writing our paragraph on the speaker's alienation, I came to understand his circumstances and message more. His use of "the eternal Footman" as well as the suspected gossip other people spoke made his loneliness more clear, but it was his style of writing that made this poem intriguing to me in the first place.

  60. Response to: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot:

    T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a poem that conveys several emotions to its audience. For me there was an overtone of actual love and admiration of a companion or companions. While at the same time the undertone of absolute sadness was overwhelming. I found that the latter of the two is much more important to the poem. My reaction to this sadness was a feeling of comprehension. After reading I really understood how Prufock felt misunderstood in a way that completely alienated him from the rest of the world.
    I did really enjoy this poem though. The fact that Eliot captures this man Prufrock in several different lights, and then displays him back in many levels shows us just how talented Eliot was.

  61. This poem has a very melancholy tone. It is almost as if the poet is embarassed of himself when he tells of people saying, "How is hair is growing thin!"(line 42). The poem shows evidence of alienation which is shown in the lines, "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
    I do not think that they will sing to me" (lines 124-125). Overall, I really enjoyed the poem. I found it to be well portrayed and written.

  62. The poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" allowed me to revel in the intense descriptions of the scenery and its bleak character. Eliot describes the "half-deserted streets" (4) and the "sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells" (8) with a tone of disgust. This tone made me feel the gloom that the subject is experiencing, and ponder the eariness of the surroundings. The speaker's depressing mood created a feeling of sorrow and distress over me. Eliot's use of words associated with creepiness, such as "smoke" (15) and "fog" (16), revived this mood. It depicted an image of a world in the dark, with all of the people in fear of what lurks in this darkness. I experienced the same feeling, for this darkness was shown to me within the words of this poem, extinguishing any pleasant thoughts I had beforehand.

  63. This poem is probably my favorite out of all the ones we've read so far. I felt like this poem could really evoke emotion- I felt like I myself could walk through the half deserted streets and see the yellow fog on the window panes. Although it's written in a sort of dreamy tone, the poem itself seems very real. Yes, people gossip and have bald spots...

    Although this poem most likely has many deeper meanings, it can be enjoyed without being analyzed, which is probably why I like it so much. It can be simple or complex, depending on how you look at it. The author's thoughts are easy to follow, whereas other poems seem impossible to understand unless you're the author.


  64. This poem is a staple in romantic literature as it epitomizes rhyme scheme without boundaries. Eliot seems to dip in and out of the character of Prufrock in many different instances. I feel that Eliot does a phenomenal job of inputting the sense of alienation that we previously discussed before in the poem, but with subtle tendency. For instance, he doesn't blatantly stick Prufrock's character away from others, he simply makes the other characters "passerby people" who come and go, while Prufrock stares at them while they pass. This way Prufrock is simply implied to be alienated. I really enjoyed reading the different inflection styles that Eliot used in his syntax such as the line, "For I have known them all already, known them all" where Eliot inputs the word "all" into many words. Eliot's rhyming style is perfectly composed, which made me enjoy reading this poem even more. It definitely helped me focus on the depth of the poem as well.


  65. Josh Trubowitz
    As discussed in class, Prufrock clearly feels alienated from society. It seems as if "in the room where the women come and go,/ talking of Michelangelo" (13-14), Prufrock is sitting in the corner, watching the women walk by with not a thought about him. This spawns his feelings of insignificance and insecurity, further described when he speaks of how people – were he to put himself out in the world – would only notice "how is hair is growing thin" (41) or "how is arms and legs are thin" (44). It is also important to note that the word thin may allude to and therefore further underscore his feelings of uselessness and self doubt. Putting himself out in the world may be a reference to a woman that he is interested in, the one whose perfume "makes him so digress" (66). However, Prufrock faces the dilemma that he is no Prince Hamlet, just one "to swell a progress" (113).
    With this said, the Love Song was a rather depressing poem, being the unsung song for so many people's lives. They are good people that have simply been pushed to the edge of society for whatever reason, and this does horrors to their psyche, making them doubt every aspect of themselves. For this reason, the poem was a hard pill to swallow, as it dealt with the sad truths of the lives of many.

  66. This is the tragic, spotlit monologue of one man who has sunk far into a dying life of repetition and routine. There have been days and days of custom and procedure, and all the while he grows more enfeebled as time blasts on strong. With his aging comes an acute awareness of his own surroundings, but there he finds no love for them. He knows himself, he knows the space in which he has been planted firmly, and his circumstance is like a tomb, impersonal and immovable. The existentialist thinker Ortega y Gasset wrote that 'man will be be ever defined as the sum of himself and his circumstances.' Prufrock's alienation is not just with his environment, but with HIMSELF. This is, then, the most tragic of isolations.

  67. This poem is very satisfying. To hear it aloud is far better than to see it in print, alone. Although the voice seems resigned, in many ways, there is something very close and sincere. One may be made to wonder if, perhaps, J. Alfred Prufrock is not entirely sane. Who is it that he addresses?
    The Dante quote introducing the poem seems to describe the thoughts of the character of Prufrock. Less so the idea that the listener will be killed before retelling his story, the character seems to see little importance in his musings. Perhaps he would say something like "I doubt you care, but..."

  68. When first (and not very carefully) reading this poem, I actually found it irritating and thought it very self-centered for a love song. It seemed to me like the focus was more on the speaker than anything else, and I found it a little indulgent. Looking at it more though, it became clear to me that it is more a poem about longing than it is a poem about love, with the speaker feeling separated and alienated from the people he is describing. No matter the lengths he goes to to be a part of society or to understand the woman sitting on pillows, he does not get it, and is not accepted by anyone. When looking at it this way, the poem appears much more intense, and much more meaningful, in addition to being a pretty sad look at an old man who is lonely and wants to be sung at by mermaids just like everyone else.

  69. T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    I think the speaker of this ironic monologue is a modern, urban man who, like many of his kind, feels isolated and incapable of assertive action. Also, Irony is apparent from the title, because this is not a conventional love song. Prufrock would like to speak of love to a woman, but he does not dare. Prufrock, in seeking and failing to become a hero in his own life, therefore condemns himself to ultimate waste and isolation. Prufrock, who has condemned himself, will never "return to the world." If Prufrock had become a hero in his own life like Hamlet or Dante, the flame in which he has suffered would have fallen.

  70. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”—T. S. Eliot

    After reading this poem, my first reaction was to feel respect for the main character. In the poem, he did not have to impress the women in the other room by any means. Although for the majority of the poem, he contemplated making an appearance because he believed he would not be presentable to these women, by the end, he accepts himself as is. He states that he is “an attendant lord, one that will do,/ To swell a progress, start a scene or two,/ Advise the prince” (112-4). He also states: “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?/ I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach” (122-3). By the end of the poem, the main character realizes the insignificance of his previous worrying. He stops living up to anyone’s expectation except his own.

  71. This poem seems to be a complex piece of work, with many different levels and meanings associated with each aspect. Taking this into consideration, I do not doubt that there are some things I do not understand in the poem. There is a lot that could be explained further or taken in different ways, but what I did understand, I like a lot. Though the meaning may be a little hazy, I really like the sound of the few lines that Eliot uses repeatedly, such as “In the room the women come and go/ talking of Michelangelo”, and “That is not what I meant at all./ That is not it at all”. Besides that, I like the overall style of the poem, and how it is a blend of modern, with free verse, and old, with some rhymes and common themes.
    One of these themes seems to be alienation, and how the speaker is a stranger in a once-familiar world. This relates to Dante’s epigram because the false counselor is speaking of being far away and detached from the world, and how he is detached from his past in that world, just like the speaker in Eliot’s poem.

  72. I'm not sure how much of this poem is about prostitutes, if at all. The reference to "one-night cheap hotels" certainly seems an allusion, but because the person whom J. Alfred Prufrock is addressing never is really clear in the gender department. The bit about "knowing arms" seems a bit suspicious, if you ask me.
    But besides the grander meaning of some phrasing feeling muddled, I really loved the sound of this poem, and I have to say, I didn't find it all that depressing. In fact, when hearing it the second time, I immediately recalled the poem read aloud towards the end of President Obama's inauguration, "Praise Song for the Day". What struck me was the respect and contemplation and elevation of day to day activity. There are a hundred visions and revisions in a day, and to measure one's life in coffee-spoons seems to me not only poetical, but a sort of heart-breaking appreciation for the day-to-day. To be sure, J. Alfred Prufrock is a little man. He is growing old and he is wistfully contemplative. But to me, he is not tragic. He is a strange sort of lovable, and I believe one can recognize a bit of him in oneself.


    I was excited to read the poem, considering that I had already read the poem before (and loved it!)
    I admire the style of T. S. Eliot and the skill with which he wrote his poems. His metaphors, such as “like a patient etherized upon a table” (3), are highly original and convey emotion effectively. When describing the evening, few people think of associating it with medicine and still manage to use such an odd metaphor to convey the helplessness accompanying the evening. A patient drugged is completely powerless and defenseless. I imagine that Prufrock feels much the same way about the evenings, a time when he feels absolutely unprotected.
    The friendliness and openness with which Prufrock speaks to his audience draws readers into the poem. “Let us go” (1), he says, as if he were together with the readers and as if the poem was more of a casual conversation than abstruse, complicated prose. He also willingly talks about sensitive topics, like his age and unrewarding occupation. He admits that he was “afraid” (86) and “wept” (81) at the “crisis” (80). Such divulgence, even from a fictional character, draws readers in, for they know they will be treated to honest, eye-opening reflection.

    -Clara Yoon

  74. I like how practically nobody has related Dante's epigram to the poem. However, I will not be among those few who have.
    Thus, this is my
    full of

    I read this poem and UNDERSTAND the character's anguish, and, indeed, he suffers from massive anguish and despair. I can, however, relate to only one aspect of the origin of this person's anguish, and that is the state of experiencing reality "at a distance," as I call it, somewhat removed from all that which is real and tangible. He demonstrates his separation when he says he "know[s] the voices dying with a dying fall/ Beneath the music from a farther room." He is separated from his sensory and physical experience, even, of the world around him. This I may have felt at some point, if I am interpreting the poetry properly, although I was not at all affected similarly to the way in which "Prufrock" apparently was. This brings me to another point: this poem is a lament of the character's alienation from a multitude of aspects of humanity and reality, however, to this itself I can not at all relate, for the state of such alienation I enjoy. I honestly find fulfillment and happiness in a state of isolation and seclusion, so, the totality of my "emotional" response to this poem was a mixture of objective understanding of and subjective "disagreement" with the character Prufrock. By "disagreement," I do not mean that I disagree with the fact of the character's state or the truth of his words, but rather I doubt the validity of the cause for the character's emotions. Once again, this is a subjective standpoint, but objectively, I see why he feels and speaks the way he does.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. As discussed in class, the speaker seems to be alienating himself from the others in poem. The poem had a dreary, depressing atmosphere as the speaker spoke of his life. This is shown particularly when he says that he should have been born “a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of the silent seas” (73-74). He attempts also to try to understand himself. As he speaks of death and the eternal Footman, he says that he is afraid. In dialogue with others, Prufrock and the other have misunderstandings shown by “’That is not what I meant at all’” (97). Prufrock does not have his own identity. He thinks that he is not important. He is “an attendant lord” (112) just there to swell the numbers around the true hero. He describes himself as “an easy tool”, “Deferential”, “glad to be of use” (114-115), clearly not the speech of someone with very much self-confidence. The poem builds a melancholic mood with the words of death and sadness everywhere, such as, “a patient etherized” (3). There are pleasant parts, such as toast and tea, but it is countered of the overall mood of the poem, which seems to be of despair or regret. Prufrock asks himself many questions in the poem, and also says things that unsettle readers, the last lines say “and we drown” (131).
    It seemed, since this poem is a love song, that Prufrock is telling of his love towards his beloved. He seems to say that without his love, he is merely there. He is lonely, others speak of him behind his back, he is just alone. But, if his love were there, he would be different, to his love, he is important, and that is all than matters. Who cares what others think.

  77. The Love SOng of J. Alfred Prufrock

    This poem by T.S. Eliot is a sad one. Every line of every stanzas oozes dreariness and describes it in an almost overly detailed fashion. “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,” I personally believe that the second repeat was enough to make the reader imagine the eerie back alley with fog brushing against the windows on either side. Not only that but I felt that the rhythm of the poem was disrupted by lines such as “In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo” (Although, this could just be how I read it). Despite my complaints I empathized with the character Mr.Prufrock in his situation. His moment of fame had past him, he feels that he might as well be a creature running around the ocean floor, and he believes that maybe he could've changed this if he had said “That's not what I meant at all.”

  78. Though this poem covered a wide range of thought in its entirety, the overall mood was rather somber and passive. If colors could be applied to this poem, I would choose grey, as fog is a recurring motif, such as in the description of the "smoke that slides along the street,
    Rubbing its back upon the window-panes (24-25)".

    Throughout all the speaker's brainstorming, he has a tough time making a decision, as he keeps coming back to the question, "Would it have been worth it?" From this, the reader can conclude that the author is reflecting on regrets, both made and in the making. Many times in my life, I have questioned my past and imagined what life would be like had I made different decisions. This poem brought about nostalgia in the speaker, as well as myself.

  79. After reading this poem I felt depressed. I did not feel like I wanted to jump off a bridge, but it just felt like a damper on my mood. I felt sorry for Prufrock because he sees himself as so alone in a great big world. Prufrock also is second guessing himself and has no confidence as he is always questioning himself, "would it have been worth it?" This feeling of insecurity and isolation rubbed off onto me as I read, and by the end I felt as if I myself had done something wrong.

  80. Actually, my overall reaction to this poem was along the lines of wondering if Prufrock had gone crazy. There was a more meandering way the poem was written than other poems, as if the poet had written a train of thought as it came to him, rather than actually focusing on a topic. This was most evident to me when he was speaking about the "yellow fog" (15), and the "mermaids" (124). Here he left earlier topics quickly and was slow to turn to another one. It almost made you think he had gone insane at multiple times.

  81. I remember when I read Shel Silverstein for the first time in the 2nd grade. Each word seemed so right, each stanza teemed with alliteration so foreign to my young eyes and I was inspired. This is how I felt after reading “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock”. I though about the poem as it was read, I though about it after it was read, I though about it while walking to rowing and when I returned home I even Googled an analysis of the poem(what?!). What it comes down to is that I rarely read, and I rarely read anything so inspiring as to compel me to write, so thank you Mr. Sharp for rekindling that wee bit of poet inside of me that fizzled out sometime after 5th grade.

  82. The most striking aspect of the poem is the overwhelming sense of loneliness. Eliot begins the poem with descriptions of "half-deserted streets" and "muttering retreats/ Of the restless night." The man, Alfred Prufrock, is an outsider in his society. He watches the "women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo," yet he himself is never part of the activities. Michelangelo simply is a popular topic that eludes someone like Prufrock because he does not engage in normal conversations. As a poet, he observes his surrounding and records them - that is all. His loneliness is such that he feels like a "pair of ragged claws/ Scuttling across the floors of silent seas." In another description, Eliot refers to a "patient etherised upon a table." Either way, as a crab in the bottom of the ocean or a drugged patient, these imageries all denote the message of alienation. In addition, the man is ambivalent about something he wishes to do, possibly proclaim his love for a woman. Throughout the poem, the speaker mentions the chattering women who seem indifferent to his presence. "One, settling a pillow by her head" denotes a women in bed. In the end, he is talking about the singing mermaids, whose songs he will never enjoy. All these lines suggest the man's sexual tension and inability to associate with women. In one of the stanzas, he even outright asks himself, "Is it perfume from a dress/ That makes me so digress?" That is probably why he has written this love song - to vent some of this frustration and confusion. Ultimately, after much contemplation, he dares not take the risk. He does not have the audacity to "disturb the universe," unable to "presume."

  83. Emotional Response to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    What strikes me most upon first reading of the poem is its feeling of lethargy such that, when I am done reading, I feel far more quiet and tired than when I began. This feeling is conveyed within the very structure of the poem, a perfect example of which occurs towards the beginning of the poem, "The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,/ The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes" (15-16). Ignoring the content, these are very long lines for a poem like this and, even more than that, they have repetitive phrasing which makes them flow together and seem even longer than they actually are. In addition, the repeated words, "window-panes", are not pleasant to the ear and do not make for a mellifluous ending to the line.

    Yet, even when the phrasing does sound nice, the content of Eliot's words creates a feeling of never-ending time. Consider the lines "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" (38-40) which rhyme nicely but still impart the same feeling. Most of this effect is created by the repetition of the phrase "do I dare", which suggests that the speaker has resigned himself to a diminished life, with the inclusion of the bald spot only heightening the sense of old age and withdrawal.

    At last, there is the poem's length itself. One hundred and thirty-one lines of meandering text, all moody and full of feeling, but not telling a story. This must ultimately have been the source of my exhaustion, so many times are the above mentioned tricks used within the poem that, by the end, it is impossible to not feel like one has just been on a great journey that ended in naught.

  84. In his monologue, Prufrock attempts to relate his story to others but in the end gives up because of his lack of confidence. I felt his loneliness and despair seep from his constant stream of thoughts. He constantly obsesses over himself and reiterates his unworthiness over and over again. He repeats pessimistic words, “that is not it at all” and questions himself “how should I presume?” His compulsiveness through these words gives the feeling that Prufrock is isolated from the world because of his abnormal obsessions. Prufrock says he “should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas” as if he were crab-like. He acts like a soft animal hiding away from the world in its shell.
    His lack of confidence and his self-alienation casts a somber and pitying mood. Prufrock has “lingered in the chambers of the sea” wallowing in his self-pity. T.S. Eliot incorporates vivid images of the sea to metaphorically describe Prufrock’s emotional distance from others. The sea’s dreary and gray skies are what he feels everyday and alienates him from the world.
    For most of the poem, after getting over pity for him, I am frustrated with his pessimistic outlook and easy resignation. No matter the situation, Prufrock still holds little pride. He does not even have the courage to be with the lover described in the poem. In the end, he just gives up trying and “drowns”.

  85. Ahem… Although this OBVIOUSLY was due YESTERday at MIDNIGHT, I’m making this pose ANYWAY.

    “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

    At one point, the speaker apparently ponders how he can denounce social constructs and institutions and thereby “disturb the universe,” but then repeatedly claims that, for everything contemplated and not done, “there will be time,” showing his weakness in confronting the problems he sees. He also entertains the possibility of having his thoughts projected on a screen for all to see, but then he flails and wonders if it would be worthwhile. His pride has been trampled on and his sense of emotional security weakened by the “Footman” who snickered at him, and he has become incredibly self-conscious, perhaps in an effort to please people superficially so that they may stop wondering about his personal integrity. This attendant lord believes that he sometimes plays the “Fool,” and although it is not clear how, I understand him. All this brought and more possibly contributed to his sense of alienation, which is sometimes shown by what seems to me meaningless lines inserted between each thought—which can really only be said to oneself in isolation. I liked the way the speaker’s thoughts are fragmented, because it effectively captures the condition his mind is in. The poem resonated with me partly because many of the thoughts Eliot phrased bear on what I’ve long been considering myself, namely how one should tolerate things as they are and how one should interact with people. In some instances, my memories of critical situations in my life reflect some of the same situations the speaker described. Given this, I did empathize with the speaker on a few occasions, and sympathized with him on others.

  86. My favorite thing about this poem was how the speaker was alone by himself, quiet, reflecting, and alone with other people. He knows them, but refers to them in distant terms, such as "them", "they", "the women". He doesn't use the word we until the last stanza, but he speaks of other people throughout.
    This poem is written so beautifully, with such an emotional punch at the end. It is easily my favorite reading we've done the entire year.

  87. The speaker in this poem shares much the same perspective as Guido from the inferno. Throughout the poem he laments the fact that his old age has progressively alienated him from things he once held dear. In the final stanzas the speaker seems to have accepted his detachment, describing himself as " easy tool, / Deferential, glad to be of use, / Politic, cautious, and meticulous". He then goes on to explicitly state the cause of his loniliness ("I grow old") and describes himself as "lingering". He, much like Guido, no longer has any attachment or interest in the world and is therefore free to express himself.

  88. This is one of my favorite poems. There is a certain smoothness to its rhythm that makes it very calming to listen to. But what is being said does not match that calm, and that clash is where the beauty is. Upon first reading this, it seemed almost self-conscious and timid, but slowly J. Alfred Prufrock began to sound more and more cautious and wise.

    It also made me think. One of my favorite lines, "Do I dare/Disturb the universe?" asks a question that is never exactly answered, leaving room for interpretation and, more importantly, personal consideration. What would I do?

    My other favorite line, "That is not it at all/That is not what I meant at all," does something similar. What does she mean?

    Very few poems actually make me think about what they're saying. Eliot is clearly writing about something of huge importance - World War I - but it seems to be more generally about destruction and advancement (or lack thereof). These are issues still relevant today, for everyone, and Eliot does an extraordinary job of conveying the conflicted emotions that come with such a topic.

  89. This poem was indeed beautiful to listen to because of all of the literary devices, repetition, etc. employed by the poet. The lack of meter made it less delectable to me, but it was pretty all the same, and the free-verse allows more devices that would not have been possible had the poem been written in meter. My emotional feeling having just read the poem has differed each time I read it. The first time, having just listened to Mr. Sharp read it in class, I was confused more than anything else, between the lack of a clear subject or story and that I was distracted by several things during the reading. After listening to Anthony Hopkins read it, I was slightly less confused, having listened to more of the poem than I did the first time. This time, I was struck more by the darker aspects of the poem, such as mermaids’ rejection of the speaker, the regretful misunderstood people, and the separation from fellow humans. However, when I re-read the poem before writing this analysis while listening to my favorite song, the unhappy aspects seemed less important compared to the speaker’s confusion about everything. “How should I presume?/ And how should I begin?” he asks repeatedly. “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?” My several different reactions upon reading the poem several times led me to the conclusion that the poem was not meant to be clear, or happy. Instead, the depressed and, more importantly, confused aspects were the things I took away most from the poem.

    Indy Prentice, Period 8

  90. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was interesting not only in the meaning and the theme of the poem, but it was also written very well so that it sounded poetic to the ears and in the mind, even though it was written in free verse.
    The tone of the poem was depressing and hopeless. Phrases like "half-deserted" mean the same thing as "half populated", but the second is neither as poetic, nor does it create the intended feeling for the reader. "Half-deserted" is the same thing as a glass half empty rather than half full, and in this poem it relays the feeling that Prufrock is excluded from the rest of the world.
    The poem seemed at first to be centered around alienation, where everyone was pushing Prufrock away. After reading the poem a second time though, it seemed to be more his doing than that of others. Questions like "Do I dare" and "How should I presume" gave me the feeling that Prufrock had already experienced much in his life. It takes wisdom to ask a question before you act, and throughout the entire poem Prufrock seemed to be second guessing himself because of his knowledge, not his lack of knowledge.

  91. Upon reading "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," I initially got a sense of indecision and uneasiness. The narrator continues to ask himself questions ("And how shall I presume?" 61) and to concentrate on his appearance. This is mirrored in the syntax of the poem: while many of the lines rhyme, as in "Let us go then, you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky" (1-2), these rhythms are erratic and leave the reader looking for a rhyme scheme when none exists. This gives the poem a sense of melancholy senility – it almost seems that the narrator is trying to fit his thoughts into a meter, but that he's unable to organize them effectively. In the same way, the narrator has difficulty understanding others, some of whom berate him, saying "That is not it at all, / That is not what I meant, at all" (109-10). I can definitely identify with this inability to understand someone else's perspective, and strive to overcome this obstacle every day.

  92. I am sorry, but I really wanted to answer both questions…so I did.

    Although it was beautifully composed, some aspects of the poem were clearly out of place. “With a bald spot in the middle of my hair-/ They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”” (40-1). The quote illustrates alienation through the separation of the voice and “they”. Eliot not only distinguishes the two entities by the separations in address, but also distinguishes them by their physical features. If balding were normal, “they” would not comment on it. Yet, they do- balding distinguishes Eliot’s voice from society. The meaning of the lines fit within the theme of alienation. However, the phrasing creates humor. In comparison, the diction in the following stanzas creates a solemn mood, as Eliot’s voice questions his place in the universe. This made me slightly sad. Although I understand how these lines fit into the poem, the mood created later was ruined as I listened to the poem for the second time. Most of the odd phrases left me startled and confused. Yes, the poem was beautifully written, but I am confused of the mood Eliot tried to set. The odd phrasing and words leave a bitter taste in my mouth, although the overall effect is sweet.
    In the epigram, Guido only agrees to tell his story because he is sure that Dante will never reach the world above. In his mind, his thoughts and past are forever locked in the depths of hell. Only in this silence do Dante and the audience find truth. In a way, Guido is afraid to influence the world above. He is afraid of ruining the image that remained of him. This is similar to Eliot’s voice. “And should I then presume?/ And how should I begin” (68-9). The voice is not only afraid of his impact on the universe (“Do I dare/ Disturb the Universe”), he is also afraid of changing his existence. He is unsure of the path he should take currently. He is also afraid of changing his current status/ position. Both characters are afraid of affecting the world and society. They do not want to bring attention to themselves. By introducing Guido, Eliot sets up the main voice in the poem. He brings out the main idea of the voice only speaking truthfully through the poem, as Guido could only speak truthfully in hell. In society, the voice can only bite “off the matter with a smile.”

  93. This poem feels as if the transitions between the major phrases were not originally composed with the poem, as if they were just added as glue between separate poems that Eliot may have been composing. The first time it says, "In the room the women come and go/ talking of Michaelangelo" (13-14) this strange transition joins two stanzas of leaving to visit something, and war. This transition seems a bit odd, and makes the reader confused at the sudden change of topic. However, within the stanzas the poem is beautifully melted together. The topic is coherent, allowing the reader a sense of security. Later in the poem, when Prufrock begins to talk about his age, the hopelessness of a renewed life is felt strongly off the pages. Prufrock says that he "knows them all" (49, 55, 62), which is a depressing statement of age. The fact that he admits his great experience is a sign of resignation, of giving up in life. And though he seems to want to give up life, he still feels a tug to stay in the concrete world. Prufrock says that he "is afraid" (86), which stands out among the rest of the stanza. The shock of this short line is made more apparent because of the contrast in mood to the rest of the poem. Finally, Prufrock ends his poem talking about death. The talk about death is not surprising to the reader, because it feels like the whole poem has been leading up to the end. The reader is left feeling content, as if going through a whole life filled with dramatic experiences.

  94. T.S Eliot created a poem that entwined itself effectively around the reader from the start. Even before I began to actually read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” I became enthralled by the stanza styles, which follow no apparent pattern. Once I delved into the words and meaning held by those stanzas, I found a speaker who appeared to be going through some sort of midlife crisis. While he was fretting about the process of aging, hair loss, and losing things once familiar, the speaker appeared distressed. I, however, found great entertainment in the images presented and the tone created. This amusement was only magnified upon hearing the poem aloud. As a huge fan of Sir Anthony Hopkins, his smooth voice and amazing accent brought an already great poem to a new level for me. I did not feel any sense of sadness when hearing or reading the poem, though I can see where others might. I believe this lack of depression is due to my inability to relate to the stress of aging and balding, as well as my innate ability to be amused by semi-depressing writings. Overall, I enjoyed the poem greatly and would read it again, preferably aloud.

  95. T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a peculiar poem with its usage of apparently random styles thrown together. Iambic pentameter, rhyme, and fragmented stanzas appear to be combating the romantic style of the previous period. Eliot’s Prufrock voices an isolated man of great contempt. He is consumed with thoughts of how other people will judge his existence. The poem begins with, “let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky.” Prufrock envisions a somber scene with a companion, most likely a woman. Prufrock goes on to say “in the room the woman come and go, talking of Michaelangelo.” The sudden change in scenery suggests that Prufrock envisioned a paradise, but instead is left alone in a corner, observing women moving aimlessly about, even as they discuss matters probably well beyond their grasp. The speaker of the poem is cynical and apparently weary of his surroundings, which he describes with thinly veiled contempt. He expresses no overt hatred or resentment, but is suspicious of others, himself, and the world. The only happiness Prufrock finds is in that of a dream and when human voices wake him, summoning him back to reality, he and his companion drown. They cannot survive outside the dream.

  96. Response

    This poem was great for multiple reasons... To begin with, the most obvious, it sounded flawless. Eliot used repetition in his writing, and keen alliteration to make the poem read beautifully. Additionally, the poem was very complex and deep with meaning. As we analyzed in a previous activity, there was a lot of alienation, through the ideas of time, setting, oneself, and society. With this in mind, he also employed time as a dictator for tone. He spoke largely in the past and future, using the past to sound lethargic, relaxed, and overall almost romantic, and the future for the purpose of rhetoric. Without as much of a presence of the present tense, he further alienated himself by having no place. This was one of many great effects used in this notable poem, and one of many reasons that I enjoyed it.

  97. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" seems fragmented to me, like the author wrote a few different poems and spliced them together to create one larger one. The author changes focus throughout the poem, as well as repeating lines multiple times. To me, this style gives a feeling of insecurity and rambling, as though the narrator is unsure of what to say and is stumbling over his lines. The self-questioning tone throughout the poem also adds to this mood, with queries such as "And should I then presume?/ And how should I begin?"
    As I read this poem, with its insecure and melancholy tone, I pitied this man who felt so out of place in the world. He is so uncertain he must ask himself "Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?" To live like this, forever worrying about what others will say and think of you, so worried that you remain terrified of making a difference in the world, seems like an existence I wouldn't wish on anyone.

  98. T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was very enjoyable, as it defied many of the standard ideas of classic poetry and beautifully created a character, Prufrock, who lives his life in insecurity and alienation. Most classic poets tell stories of cliche "macho men" who are confident, strong, and successful with women. Prufrock, on the other hand, feels isolated, and his only contact with women in his current state is from watching them from across the room as they "come and go, talking of Michelangelo". Prufrock seems to live a life that flits between a dream - in which he is successful and secure - and his reality, a life of insecurity, when he feels so alienated from the world he has to ask himself "Do I dare, Disturb the universe?" While Prufrock would love to lead the life in his dream world, his insecurities make this impossible.

  99. The title is a bit odd for a poem about mustard gas. Well, the poem is not entirely about mustard gas itself per say, but more about the First World War and uses mustard gas to represent the war and it's effects, which is quite fitting seeing as the gas and trenches are what we associate with WWI today. the most obvious clue to the mustard gas is the "yellow smoke" of which he keeps on referring to. a more subtle reference to the gas is that one must "prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet", possibly (if taken literally), meaning that for one to see other people outside their shelter, they must put on a gas mask to do so. while all of this analysis is horrifically literal, the poem of course, still has it's vast amounts of symbolism. for the most part, the poem is about what being cooped up in one place does to you. naturally Prufrock feels alienated from the outside world by a physical obstetrical, but also within his shelter he is alienated as well, when "the women come and go
    / Talking of Michelangelo." and “How his hair is growing thin!”“But how his arms and legs are thin!”. the rest of the poem is what such a overwhelming force of alienation does to a person, "Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

  100. [The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock]

    At the beginning this poem, T.S. Elliot includes a quote from Dante's Inferno, by Guido da Montefeltro. Guido expresses to Dante that he would not have told his story "if I thought my answer were given / to anyone who would ever return to the world." Ironically, the poem deals with the exact opposite issue. Prufrock wants the world to hear his story, but is afraid no one will listen. He is also afraid that if they do listen, they will interpret him wrong, as expressed by the line, “That is not what I meant at all. / That is not it, at all.”

    //Max Timkovich

  101. After first reading the poem, I was struck by its ignorance of any particular style and use of many literary techniques that were not consistent throughout the poem. The poem seems to be a stream of thoughts, yet this lack of a defined structure does not take away the poem’s beauty. T. S. Eliot’s inconsistency is somewhat symbolic of the Prufrock’s uncertainty of his own emotions. Among the stanzas and metaphors, Eliot also adds in questions that reflect that which Prufrock’s wishes to have answered, but will never get an answer that satisfies him. “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?”(45-6) is one such example, in which he wonders whether he was purposed to do anything, or just be in existence without effecting any one thing. These thoughts are responsible for his own alienation from society because he lacks the confidence to essentially live his life after repeated alienation from members of his society. Instead of resisting this alienation and finding another place in which he can be accepted, he doubts and questions himself, only exacerbating his alienation.

    I felt great pity for him because he seemed so lost and unsure of himself, but also was angered at how little self-confidence he had. The poem does not conclude with a happy ending to which he forms some sort of conclusion or resolve to better himself. Instead, it ends with a sad note about the sea, and the line “Till human voices wake us, and we drown”(131). This was a good ending line, because it conveys the confusion Prufrock felt through his thought process displayed in the poem, and also allowed the reader to feel the true extent to which he was alienated and pity him one last time for it.

  102. What interest me most about "The Love Story of J. Alfred Prufrock", was how the author,T.S. Eliot, indicates the time period and his perspective of growing old. "The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes" (15-17).The yellow smoke mentioned in this stanza refers to the toxic gasses released from the nuclear war heads during the first world war."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(40-46).Here it seems as though Prufrock is afraid of growing old. In addition, he seems to observe society's perspective of him and is bothered by those who have negative things to say. "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.I do not think that they will sing to me" (124-125). Due to the negative comments from society refering to Mr. Prufrock, he has isolated himeself from society.

  103. J. Alfred's Pufrock's love song is not a traditional love poem. Upbeat and romantic elements are not found here and instead the poem focuses more on the feelings of isolation and alienation the main charachter feels. The poem focuses on someone who feels out of place in the world."With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]." Its with this line that the main charachter expresses why he feels the way he does, that being that he is getting old. There are other reasons besides this that add to his feelings of alienation such as "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" which points to that he wasn't just conscious of his age, but he is also grappling with other feelings such as impotency and lack of courage. The last few lines of the poem are the most crucial to the theme of the poem and help to sum up his mood and how he feels at this point in his life. "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." These are powerful lines and help to drive home the feelings of despair that the main charachter of the poem is experiencing. This also serves to remind the reader that this is not a romantic love poem.

  104. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    Upon first reading this poem, it seemed as though Prufrock was not focusing on the style nor the poetic elements when writing it, and instead focused on more of the meaning he was going to get across to his readers. Each stanza brought forth to the reader this intolerable alienation that Prufrock presented through his story of isolation. Instead of searching for a better solitude or even try to cope in with the rest of society, he questions his existence and being more and more, thus getting nowhere in the situation. It's a pity that he is running around in this circle of life, away from everyone, aging faster than ever as he wonders through this alienation of his. In lines such as where he writes, "Do I dare, disturb the Universe?" shows off how insecure he feels in the world, thus coming to a thought that maybe 'disturbing' society and his surroundings will make things worse than they are. I did not enjoy this poem as I did the others simply because it sounded like an old man's diary with thoughts and questions that brought the man nowhere in life, which was very sympathetic to me when reading it...

  105. The poem is very gloomy and sadistic, Prufrock feels powerless and does not have the strength to “force the moment to its crisis” with a seemingly potential lover. He feels alienated from the world, enforced at the end of the poem when he hears “mermaids singing, each to each” and comments that “I do not think they will sing to me.” Earlier, people were depicted as picking out each of Prufrock’s inadequacies behind his back, and here the mermaids serve as the rest of society who rejects him.

    However, the beginning of the poem was quite different. He starts it out as a captivating love poem, “Let us go then, you and I,” and sets the mood for (what the titles suggests as well) a romantic love story. This mood shifts towards the end of the first stanza when he trails off and reveals that there is more on his mind, “To lead you to an overwhelming questions...” This initial mood of the poem describes his change of sentiments, as at first he wishes he could find love and hope for the best, but he realizes that he is alone in this world.

    Anthony Hopkins’ reading reinforced this theme, as his reading was very slow and gloomy. I pitied Prufrock for he has lost all hope, and it is very painful to feel abandonment and rejection from those you love. It is hard to imagine life completely lonely as Prufrock is depicted and I feel very compassionate for him. You are left with a true sense of sentiment and emotion for him.

  106. Josh Stevens-Stein

    Seeing as how I was absent during both class period tuesday and thursday (through saturday) , here are my responses, both in-class and the second.

    In-Class: Displaying Alienation

    WIthin the poem, Elliot, upon taking the character of Prufrock, separates himself from the common populace. He says "I am not Prince Hamlet," lacking the defining moral quality and other charisma behind Hamlet, and he has "a bald spot in the middle of [his hair]." He is not attractive to standard females, in short. Women he knows will not accept him, or so he believes, for he does not contain the qualities they desire. Prufrock has known these women and will know them for they are all the same. He has "known them already," has "known their eyes already," which pin him down like an insect for observation. Prufrock is not confident in his skill with women and so he separates himself from the world like so many loners. he compares himself to the "lonely men in shirtsleeves, leaning out of windows", watching life pass slowly by and to the shadowy, unknown, lowly crab "scuttling across the floors of silent seas." He even, in one stanza, relates to the yellow fog, which will always look in through the window-panes into the exciting lives of others, but instead of joining, will curl up and sleep in the "soft October night."

    Overall Reaction

    This poem strongly reminds me of myself during 7th grade. During my first year at Kealing, I knew absolutely nobody. I wanted to join a social group, but like Prufrock, I didn't know when, where, or with who I should. Instead, I lived life on the sidelines, for while "I heard the mermaids singing," I did not think they would sing to me.
    Also, this poem sounds oddly like the narrative of a man going through midlife crisis. Like the self-conscious man of forty, Prufrock asks, "do I part my hair behind," "shall [I] wear white-flannel trousers," "do I dare to eat a peach." He asks how he should dress, how to wear his hair, whether to allow himself those extra 100 calories from a peach. Prufrock wants to be the old man he was at 20, fitter, not balding, and dressed well. he doesn't want to be the loser he now is, who will "let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys," and to whom the women will say "That is not what I meant at all."

    Sorry for the lateness. I've been out both tuesday and from thursday to saturday with no computer access.

  107. Elliot writes of sorrow and regret. He writes as Prufrock, who has lived out his life in boring, everyday society without pursuing anything particularly interesting or exciting. He writes, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” to show that his lack of past excitements has made his life seem meaningless. Because of his disdain for common society, he has purposely alienated himself from it. At times, he mocks it, writing that there will be “time yet for a hundred indecisions,/ and for a hundred visions and revisions,/ before the taking of a toast and tea” (32-4). He detests society’s strong emphasis on unimportant things, and he regrets living his life that way.

  108. This poem seems very dark and depressing—the language creates a melancholy atmosphere, “Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels/ And sawdust restraints’ with oyster shells”, the constant use of the phrases “the yellow fog” and “the yellow smoke” create depressing scenery. This poem is as far from romanticism as to be its exact opposite, instead of talking of the beauty of nature and life, this poem talks of the gritty and dark life in the city. Alfred Prufrock talks of his sad life as he grows older, and the woman he wishes that he could be with, all the things that he wished he had done. In short, although the poem is “a love song” it is more about Alfred Prufrock growing old and not living life the way that he wanted to.
    My reaction to this poem was that it was very depressing, but realistic. Many people end up living depressing lives. This poem is obviously well written though and the descriptive language was really deep, so overall I liked this poem. It is dark, but truthful of life, while romantic poets tend to focus on the beauty of life, this poem focuses on its depressing aspects.

  109. My first reaction to the poem was realizing that Prufrock (or elliot if the poem was really about his feelings towards society) was the original emo. Lines like "that's not what i meant, not what i meant at all" give the sense that the speaker is misunderstood by those around him. It truly fits in the romantic category where the speaker is a troubled, misunderstood soul.

    Another notable aspect is how the speaker believes he is much deeper than those around him, much like the contemporary emo. Lines like "in the room women come and go/ talking of michelangelo" talk about the superficiallity of society and the detachment from the war going on. The poet is troubled with the violence and injustices of the world while the society surrounding him is concentrated on obscure frivolities and meaninglessness.

    All together wonderful :)

  110. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

    This poem is certainly a lovesong, but hardly one in the conventional form. Prufrock is certainly not expressing a beautiful relationship with another. Aside from the very beginning, there is no significant other discussed to be in his life whatsoever. This love song is more of a craving and need for love, a cry for help. He needs a lover who can weigh out his weaknesses and instabilities, and who will not judge him as he belives others so cruelly do.
    He is often very solemn and lonely throughout the poem, as a lone observer of the world around him. He sees himself as even less than that, though, having lost all hope for love. "I should have been a pair of ragged claws/
    Scuttling across the floors of silent seas." In lacking a lover, Prufrock sees himself as an unneeded part of the world, and a disturbance.

  111. Overall Reaction:

    What struck about this poem and saddened me was not that the narrator was discussing his inevitable death but that the narrator, looking back on his life and finding that it did not live up to what he had hoped had already given up on existence and was almost in the grave already. The narrator talks about "measur[ing] out my life with coffee spoons", demonstrating unhappiness with the pettiness or banality of his lifestyle. The regret that the narrator felt looking back on his own inadequacies permeates the poem, and, for me at least, is was this that lent the poem its sadness.


    The speaking character in this poem, already isolated and regretful about life, is alienated by the people that surround him. They discuss his outward appearance: "'How his hair is growing thin!'" and "'But how his arms and legs are thin!'", but also try to decide the manner in which he should live: theirs are the "eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase". These forced relationships that the narrator has with his companions leads to opens up a wide gulf between them and him. The narrator proclaims tiredly that "I have known them all already, known them all", showing how bored he is of the people around him. In addition, no one interacts with the speaker, instead he observes: "the smoke that rises from the pipes / Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows." All does is watch, he never partakes in an actual human relationship. In the end not even mermaids "will sing to me [the narrator]." The speaker, alienated from other human beings, is ready to die.