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TSE  April 2003

TSE April 2003

Subject:

Re: Prufrock's "smoke"

From:

Michelle Baker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Wed, 2 Apr 2003 06:05:10 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (117 lines)

how interesting--what evidence for Boston?

--- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I've been thinking of London fog also because it was
> smog--that is, coal
> smoke mixed in fog. But "Prufrock" seems to take place in
> Boston, and it
> was written well before Eliot moved to London.
> Nancy
>
>
>
>
> Date sent: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 21:10:35 -0600
> Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
> <[log in to unmask]>
> From: Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Prufrock's "smoke"
> To: [log in to unmask]
>
> When the question involves the symbolic possibilities of fog,
> the
> classic text would seem to be the opening of _Bleak House_. Is
> it
> relevant to Prufrock?
>
> Carrol
>
> ****
> London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor
> sitting in
> Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud
> in the
> streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face
> of the earth,
> and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty
> feet long or
> so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke
> lowering
> down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with
> flakes of soot
> in it as big as full-grown snowflakes--gone into mourning, one
> might
> imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in
> mire.
> Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot
> passengers,
> jostling one another's umbrellas in a general infection of ill
> temper, and
> losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of
> thousands of other
> foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day
> broke (if
> this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon
> crust of mud,
> sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and
> accumulating at
> compound interest.
>
> Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green
> aits and
> meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls deified among the
> tiers of
> shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty)
> city. Fog on
> the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping
> into the
> cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and
> hovering in the
> rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges
> and small
> boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich
> pensioners,
> wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and
> bowl of the
> afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close
> cabin; fog
> cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little
> 'prentice
> boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the
> parapets into a
> nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up
> in a
> balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.
>
> Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets,
> much as the
> sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by
> husbandman and
> ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their
> time--as the
> gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.
>
> The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and
> the muddy
> streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction,
> appropriate
> ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation,
> Temple Bar.
> And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln's Inn Hall, at the very
> heart of the
> fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of
> Chancery.
>
> Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud
> and mire too
> deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition
> which this High
> Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this
> day in the
> sight of heaven and earth.


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