On the other hand, the poem may be about the newly developing shting perceptions
which cause identity to melt, as do the cardboard characters in TWL. Obviously the
1911 folk wouldn't get it, butas poet it was Eliot's task to point to it.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Tom Colket
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 5:41 AM
Subject: Re: Prufrock question

Marcia wrote (among other things):
M>  I don't think each of these is the same.

That's also how it seems to me, Marcia. If the "you" refers to different antecedents at different points in the poem, I wonder if that confused the readers in 1911? Today's reader is used to shifts like that.

I think the opening and closing references are the same (that is, the person referred to at the start of the journey with Prufrock ("Let us go then, you and I") is also referred to at the end of the journey ("Till human voices wake us, and we drown").

Some of the middle "you" references seem to me to be directed toward a woman whom Prufrock thinks about having a relationship with ("Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me"), possibly even marrying someday ("After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,/Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me").

The reference in the 'time' passage ("And indeed there will be time . . . Time for you and time for me") seems to refer back to the "yellow fog" stanza that immediately precedes it and some lines that continue it ("And indeed there will be time/For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,/Rubbing its back upon the window-panes"). A "yellow fog" (yellow often being the color of sickness) that slides along the street, rubbing up against the window panes, in the part of town with "certain half-deserted streets", sounds to me like a description of a prostitute.

If you'd be interested in elaborating on your original answer, I'd be most interested.


CR wrote:
CR> the only person perplexed by the overwhelming

CR> question is Prufrock, and not another person beside him.

What makes you think Prufrock is perplexed? He says,

"Streets that  . . . lead you to an overwhelming question
Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'
Let us go and make our visit."

Sounds like Prufrock knows all about the overwhelming question (and maybe its answer). He knows the streets lead you to the question. It is the "you" who seems to need to take the journey to discover the question/answer. Prufrock, as "tour guide", knows where he wants the tour to go. I don't see him as perplexed.

CR wrote:
CR> Here's a quotation from 'Prufrock's Pervigilium', Tom, 
CR> which does not hint at another personal accompanying Prufrock:
CR> "Then I have gone at night through narrow streets,

CR>  Where evil houses leaning all together "

CR> etc

Prufrock (in the published poem) also refers to a singular "I" at one point:

"Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?"

However, a singular reference at a _later point_ in a poem does not imply to me that Prufrock was alone _every_ time he visited the "half-deserted streets".

-- Tom --


Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2010 12:19:17 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Prufrock question
To: [log in to unmask]

Dear Tom,
    I don't think each of these is the same.
    The opening you has been written about a great deal.  I'd like just to mention the effect of then, which is summary or continuation or change of subject -- that is, the poem begins in the midst.

Tom Colket wrote:

[log in to unmask]>

In Eliot's "Prufrock" there are numerous places where the narrator
addresses or refers to another person, a "you" or a "we".  My question
is: Is the narrator referring to one specific person (i.e., the same
person) in all these lines, or is more than one single individual
being referenced?

Here are the six references (among all Prufrock lines with "you/your"
or "we/us/our") that I'm particularly interested in:

1) "Let us go then, you and I . . . Let us go and make our visit."

2) "And indeed there will be time . . . Time for you and time for me"

3) "And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! . . .
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me."

4) "And would it have been worth it, after all, . . . Among the
porcelain, among some talk of you and me,"

5) "Would it have been worth while,. . . To say, 'I am Lazarus, come
from the dead,/Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all' "

6) "We have lingered in the chambers of the sea/By sea-girls wreathed
with seaweed red and brown/Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

-- Tom --

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