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TSE  January 2010

TSE January 2010

Subject:

Re: Prufrock question

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Tue, 26 Jan 2010 14:25:22 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (115 lines)

Mpt beomg am Eliot scholar having read any criticism of his work for
over 50 years, I presume there has been quite a bit of commentary on the
poem by reasonably intelligent and resposible critics, and it seems a
bit odd to speculate without some attention to some of that body of
commentary. Haven't some of these questions been exploed?

The title is or ought to be of some interest -- and certainly most
poets, when the give a poem a title, mean it to be taken
fairlyseriously, at least in pointing to genre.

It's a love song -- and it is Prufrock's love song, the love song he is
capable of making. 

Unless there is evidence in the poem to the contrary, the usual question
that ends a love song would seem to be a candidate at least for the
question he does not ask or wishes he would have had a chance to ask or
perhaps wishes his companion would ask for him and answer.

Will you? (Will you go t bed with me, that is. "But at my back I alw3ays
heare / Time's winged chariot ..." And again, beginning with the
obvious, the various activities he lists (teacups, afternoons) are the
sort of light social goings-on that would often lead up to tha that
question. And he does obsess about a number of secondary exual
attributes: light brown hair, skirts trailing on the floor.

There's an old bit of male crudity I forget the precise wording, but
along the lines of if you miss one chance to fuck you can't make it up
by any number of subseuent couplings. Surely a yong Harvard boy would 
have partakewn of a goodly number of such conversations, and we do know
from his unpublished early verse that he was pretty obsessed with the
subjec  himself. This does NOT mean that Prufrock was Eliot; it DOES
mean that Eliot would have been acquainted with the kind of fantasizing
Prufrock indulges in or remembers.

Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;

But had Prufrock called up to courage to ask this certainly overwhelming
question, he aks himself, would it have made a difference -- or would it
only have caled forth the devatating response, Down Boy, that's not what
I meant at all.

Sure there is probably much more to the poem, but I would asusme the
"much more" must be tied in some way to this foundation, of a love song
never sung.

Carrol

I attach Marvell's poem.





 	To his Coy Mistress

by Andrew Marvell


Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

        But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

        Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.




	to Andrew Marvell

Created by Anniina Jokinen on October 20, 1999.
Copyright 1996-2007 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.

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