Hi Dunja,
 
I agree with every bit of your observation. What I wrote
was only one aspect of Prufrock's personality -- only a
half truth -- and a half truth is as bad as a lie, unless
other aspects of the truth are also brought into light.
I'll briefly outline another aspect of him which apparently
contradicts the earlier picture of him but is in fact only
complementary.
 
Prufrock is a lover too (I must retract my remark that his love-song
is not about human love). Actually he is in search of a passionate,
fulfilling relationship of love. And he visits this place hoping to come
by his love -- to fulfil his "lust" for love, so to say.
 
I appreciate your insightful and very valid observation that the
whole poem is throbbing with passion, with life, and to construe
any denial of life and love would be a falsification of it. The
failure of Prufrock's self-denying exercises in spirituality
only convince him that it's futile, even foolish, to attempt
to "disturb the universe", to fly in the face of the wind,
as in 'Gerontion'. 
 
But Prufrock has apprehensions on so many counts --
apprehensions of his physical inadequacies, of physical
and moral courage to "force the moment to its crisis".
(It applies both ways -- in both contexts.)
 
All the same, my grateful thanks for your compassionate
response. It's so very rare to come by. Most of the time one
doesn't get an encouraging chance to express one's opinion.
The "evil" is nipped in the bud, so to say.
 
Thank you heartily, again, for your kind participation in this discussion.
 
Regards.
 
~ CR 


Dunja Seselja <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Your interpretation sounds very very interesting. But
I must say I can't accept it completely. I can't
accept that Prufrock is striking against the lust,
against the life in this sense; the whole poem is so
full of passion, and to give Prufrock a role of a
"moral teacher" or of the "voice of conscience" would
do the unjust to the poem. The lines that make me say
this, are first those where he says "That is not what
I meant at all. That is not it, at all." Now, I don't
think this negation is simply something what Prufrock
expects as a potential answer to his "disturbing of
the universe"; it is also what he himself agrees with
- that all these possible "warnings" cannot simply
squeeze the universe into a ball, as that is not it at
all.
I think lust is one of those things belonging to "this
world", the world of everyday life, and it falls under
the things Prufrock would like not to criticize, but
to subject to the burden of time. When he says that
there will be time to wonder "Do I dare?", he tells us
two things:
1) we all the time stand in front of the point which,
if crossed, we start daring (that's why the second
reflective questions "and, 'Do I dare?'" - dare to act
against this everyday life, to put questions, to
question the time itself and the entire meaning of
life;
2) the question of daring shows that Prufrock isn't
afraid of lust (to dare is, in a way, a lustful
action, it's a way of stepping over the borders of
what is simply given)
Prufrock knows there's something wrong with this
usual, unreflected living, but he is, on the other
hand, uncertain if questioning it would make any
sense, if it would bring anything or just miss the
point. He knows in the end he wouldn't be satisfied
("And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat,
and snicker,And in short, I was afraid." - afraid of
not knowing the sense of everything, of life, of love,
of lust, of time, of finiteness, of death).
I wouldn't say that motives of Lazarus and John the
Baptist are directly referring to lust and sin (but
thanks a lot for explaining them!); lust is here more
a symbol for something mortal, human, which cannot be
understood by a simple reflection, cause "this is not
it at all".
As for the mermaids, maybe here Peter is right in
calling upon Ulysses: Prufrock maybe wants to say that
he's too far in his thoughts in order to be able to
hear the song of enchantment; he can see them and hear
them, but he remains outside of their game. He has
been among them, has played the games of love and
passion, until human voices - our thoughts,
reflections (Peter!) - wake him and he drowns.
>
> I must leave it here, Dunja, for now!
> A classroom lecture can go on for hours --
> one has only to wag one's tongue.
> But typing is a laborious job.
> Your pardon, madam.

Thank you, CR, very much for this! Although I disagree
at some points with you, your post helped me see some
symbols which I haven't seen before. And as I already
once said, I don't think it is possible to put such a
poem in the frame of only one interpretation. But it
is wonderful to discuss its possible meanings!

Dunja


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