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Nevertheless, a few facts that throw light on the name and character of Prufrock.
 

The epigraph to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is from Dante.
 
Interestingly, in The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, Canto XXIV, St Peter, in the Eighth Heaven of Fixed Stars, puts Dante to an examination on Christian faith. 

 
St. Peter is solicited to do so in these words: "O light eternal of the great man to whom our Lord left the keys, which he bore below, of this marvellous joy, test this man on points light and grave, as pleases thee, concerning the Faith, through which thou didst walk upon the sea."
 
There is an allusion here to Matthew 16, 18-19:
 
"You are Peter, the Rock, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall never conquer it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven."
 
http://books.google.com/books?id=wmacUwleJv8C&pg=PA710&lpg=PA710&dq
 
The point I'm trying to make is that Dante's Divine Comedy, as well as the Bible, was at Eliot's fingertips when he composed The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. And that when Eliot came upon the word "Prufrock" (the name of a Furniture shop in St Louis), there is every possibility for him to associate it with the "Rock" of Christian faith.
 
In the Love Song, the poet visualizes Prufrock -- Pruf+Rock -- trying but failing to live up to his name.
 
CR


--- On Mon, 4/6/09, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Rock symbolism in Eliot's Poetry
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, April 6, 2009, 2:10 PM




My point was that he was not a Christian then or, as far as we know, an aspiring Christian.  Speculation disconnected from those facts distorts the poem.
Cheers,
Nancy

>>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> 4/6/2009 1:08 PM >>>





Going by the poem, Prufrock's mind is saturated in the Biblical lore. That he aspires for high spiritual goals but fails is evident in his admission that he has wept and fasted, wept and prayed, that he has seen the moment of his greatness flicker. So why can't the poet visualize in this middle-aged person the character of one who aspires for the absolutes of the Christian faith, as an aspiring Jesuit maybe ?
 
The fact that Eliot encountered the name Prufrock as that of a furniture shop in St Louis does not rule out how it would resonate in his mind, seeped as it was in the Christian lore (even if he did not yet subscribe to Christianity) -- he was well read in his Dante too.
 
Regards,
 CR 

--- On Mon, 4/6/09, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Rock symbolism in Eliot's Poetry
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, April 6, 2009, 8:09 AM



And, on the other hand, 1920 is not only 8 or 9 years later, it's after his move to England, the death of Verdenal, his marriage, and the War.  The whole world was changed and so was he.  He worked on "Prufrock" when he was at Harvard and in France long before all those changes in his life, and the use of Christian imagery does not entail any of these assumptions about his own views at the time.  Any writer in a Western Christian-based culture had them as potential images, and of course they were all part of his personal knowledge--along with massive reading in Eastern thought and personal doubt and angst of all kinds.
 
Reading back from his later experience ignores all that and really explains nothing that can be demonstrated.  It is much more revealing to study the letters and poems he was writing at the time; unfortunately, I do not have any of my Eliot books here to be specific.
Nancy 
 

>>> Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> 4/6/2009 7:44 AM >>>
At 04:54 AM 4/6/2009, Nancy Gish wrote:
>When Eliot wrote "Prufrock" (it was a name on a sign in St. Louis), he was 
>not a Christian, nor was he then wishing to be a Jesuit; by his own 
>account he considered being a Buddhist.   He wrote it in 1911-12, long 
>before his conversion.

  On the other hand, Poems 1920 clearly show his attention centered Christ 
and Christianity, and the fact that he had not yet formally converted to 
the Anglican communion does not dispel at all the direction in which he was 
heading. One comment made aside does not counterindicate anything.  And 
there certainly are rocks everywhere in his poetry, the lead stone of 
Burbank being as telling as any.


> >>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> 4/5/2009 9:50 PM >>>
>Thanks, Rick.
>
>2.  I also wonder if there is any connection between the "red rock" in TWL 
>and the "blue rocks" in Ash-Wednesday where the protagonist undergoes his 
>spiritual ordeal.


   The red rock is the church. As Guy Brown showed in Burbank, these lines 
-- Princess Volupine extends/
   A meagre, blue-nailed, phthisic hand --  play off of both the spiritual 
and the sensual, but lead ultimately to the waterstair.

The impetus and direction of the poetry are not all that difficult to discern.

Ken A