Eliot once said that his poems often began in a rhythm rather than an idea
(do not recall source). "Michelangelo" fits the sound needed there as
other names would not: it produces a feminine rhyme with "come and go."
That said, we need not establish a conscious (and always profound)
intention to Eliot's words. No human being could possibly have all or a
small part of the intentions attributed to him. What matters more is how
the language works. In that sense the whole poem can be read as Steve
does because of the fear of women and and anxiety about one woman
possibly humiliating him and his awareness of lonely men and the later
repeated image of drowning and sirens. I think the date of the poem
makes that a bit less likely, given that Eliot was at the time having all
kinds of difficulties with his own virginity and erotic uncertainties with
women. But this may be part of his concerns also.
Date sent: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 16:21:56 +0200
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: Sara Trevisan <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Michaelangelo
To: [log in to unmask]
> Still, my conclusion is that TSE had homosexual desires which both
and repelled him and, additionally, he was very concerned that these
desires would offend God.
Well, you then agree with the old saying about the Bloomsbury group --
that "they were couples, having triangular relationships, but living in
That's an interesting point you made, Steve. But is the whole poem to be
interpreted in the light of his hidden homosexuality?
About the "shall I say", Donoghue wrote that it's like a sort of
confession. Nobody truly cared of where Prufrock would go at night or what
he would do -- that "shall I say" is a confession that nobody asked for,
and the reader gets to pity Prufrock for his situation.