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Jennifer Formichelli wrote:

> First, 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock' does not carry a
> dedication. The 1917 book, 'Prufrock and Other Observations' carries a
> dedication. Second, the epigraph is spoken neither by J Alfred Prufrock
> (presumably if it were it would not be an epigraph) nor by TS Eliot:
> instead it is spoken by Guido da Montefeltro, a rather different
> character (that is if one can call Prufrock a character at all, which I
> for one would not); and part of its richness comes from its disparity
> from the poem to which it is attached. A sense of this is captured in
> the above (not careful) use of the word  'explanation' .

In Prufrock Eliot was apparently thinking of secrets, sin and
overwhelming questions altogether.

This epigraph to LSJAP from Dante's Inferno leads one to think of
secrets:

     S'io credessi che mia risposta fosse
    a persona che mai tomasse al mundo,
    questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
    Ma per cio che giammai di questo fondo
    non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
    senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

    "If I thought that my reply would be to someone who would ever return
    to earth, this flame would remain without further movement; but as no
    one has ever returned alive from this gulf, if what I hear is true, I
    can answer you with no fear of infamy."

While these lines from Dante's Purgatorio, Canto XXVI, lines 147-148
make one think of sin and purgation:

    'sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor'.
    Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina.

More fully (lines 142-148):

    'Ieu sui Arnaut, que plor e vau cantan;
    consiros vei la passada folor,
    e vei jausen lo jorn qu'esper, denan.
    Ara vos prec, per aquella valor
    que vos guida al som de l'escalina,
    sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor!'.
    Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina.

In his essay "Dante" (1929) Eliot provided this translation:

    'I am Arnold, who weeps and goes singing. I see in thought all the
    past folly. And I see with joy the day for which I hope, before
    me. And so I pray you, by that Virtue which leads you to the topmost
    stair--be mindful in due time of my pain'. Then dived he back into
    that fire which refines them.

In the draft of Prufrock Eliot used the Purgatorio quotation as the
epigraph (see "Inventions of the March Hare," 39, 41). So I say again
that apparently Eliot was thinking of secrets, sin and overwhelming
questions.


Regards,
    Rick Parker


http://world.std.com/~raparker/exploring/tseliot/people/verdenal.html#Prufrock