In a message dated 4/2/03 1:49:08 AM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:

> Eliot may well have written every second of his
>  non-poetic writing about sex. He may have lived, eaten
>  and breathed every waking, non-poetry writing second
>  for lust, for all I care. That does not reduce every
>  line of his poetry to a sexual meaning, or to fodder
>  for someone's fanciful inclinations based on material
>  outside the poem.
>  In fact such sexual obsession need not have any
>  implications for any of his poetry.

I'd like to use your post, Peter, to respond to all those who dismissed my
original post.

I have written a lot of posts on why I think Prufrock is about the narrator's
struggle to come to terms with homosexuality  --  I didn't recap all the
arguments in "Prufrock's smoke" because I wanted to limit that post to my
conjecture that Prufrock "emanates" from a center (set off typographically,
'framed', by dots) just as The Waste Land emanates from the hyacinth garden
scene (set off by Tristan and Isolde lines). By 'emanates' I mean there are
forward and backward references, and the reader cannot catch the forward
references until the poem is re-read and studied (e.g., the 'smoke that . .
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening' refers, in my conjecture,
to 'the lonely men', linked by the reference to 'smoke').

Closed-minded attitudes and longings for 'scholarly readings' will not get
you closer to Eliot. His poetry is confessional and religious. He constantly
worries about his relationship with God. Things about his life fill him with
anguish, expressed over and over again in his many years of writing poetry.
If you close your mind to this, if you dismiss it as mere "irrelevancies"
that are "outside" his poetry, then his poetry will forever escape you,
buried under a mountain of scholarship that continues to turn a blind eye to
the troubled man behind the fancy words.

Back to the poem: Prufrock is struggling with an OVERWHELMING question. What
do you think it is? Whatever your answer is, it had better be overwhelming.
My guess is that Prufrock is wondering whether or not to live an openly
homosexual lifestyle, and wondering if that decision will forever damn him in
the eyes of God ("Do I dare disturb the universe?"). I'm not basing that
judgment on a line or two, and I've explained my reasoning in many past
Prufrock posts.

I'm short on time just now, but I'll try to write more as soon as I can.

-- Steve --