Dunja Seselja wrote:
> seems to be that the poem contains two
> opposite moments: one one hand, there is an everyday
> life, everyday language, everyday faces, everyday
> yellow smoke. On the other, there is this metaphysical
> burden of time and finiteness. It is interesting that
> the motive of Michelangelo serves as an opposition to
> the first "world"
There must be thousands of pages of commentary accumulated on this poem
by now, most of which I have not read. Perhaps some of those at least
roughly familiar with that commentary could tell us whether anything
like a consensu exists on some of the points at issue.
Michaelangelo is to painting what Beethoven is to music and Babe Ruth is
to baseball -- known to people who know nothing whatever about painting
(or music or baseball). On first blush, then, one might intuit a simple
contrast: the achievements of the Renaissance reduced to cocktail party
chatter. (Yeats's great "Under Ben Bulben" was of course many years in
the future when Eliot wrote Prufrock, but were there earlier references
to the Sistine Chapel as an aphrodisiac:
Michael Angelo left a proof
On the Sistine Chapel's roof,
Where but half-awakened Adam
Can disturb globe-trotting Madam
Till her bowels are in heat . . .
A tempting thought, but I wouldn't quite know what to do with it.)
I agree with Marcia, of course, that Michaelangelo is not all that great
a presence in the poem, and so I'm not at all sure whether the repeats
do more than mark off one section of the poem -- perhaps at most
establishing as a background for the whole revery the ongoing chatter of
a party which the speaker is on his way to (or has departed, or has
decided to skip altogether). All these quick moments referenced in the
poem (the talking women, the arms on a table, the chatter of you and me
among the porcelain, trailing skirts) seem a sort of ground bass for the
speaker's musings, the 'life' against which those musings are cast.
Much of the poem seems built around the common male illusion (usely
harmless) that if a woman looks sexy, she is offering that sexiness to
him. Those arms give him a hard-on-- but he then fears that isn't the
point, and it will be embarassing if he says Let's go to bed and she
says Don't be silly.
and at the same time it is an
> opposition Prufrock himself (according to your point
> on masculine figures). So maybe we have here the
> "self" which is (trying to be) over and above this
> distinction, and yet, does it dare? and yet, it is not
> Hamlet... Ahh, this is such a complex poem (and
> that's, I guess, what makes it so great) - no matter
> where you try to catch it, it always slips away (for
> example, I can't figure out this motive of mermaids).