It probably is sensual, given the lines before and after about dressing
like a Paris dandy.

But it is not about asceticism. His discussions of sex then (he was a
virgin and not happy about it in any of his letters) were about his
desires rising up and his wish that he had gotten rid of his virginity
long ago. And the adolescent and vulgar sexuality of his Bolo poems and
others reveals a preoccupation with things about which he seems to have
fantasized--some of them, as in "The Love Song of St. Sebastion,"
disturbingly sadistic.

At any rate, when he writes of it in letters, as to Aiken, it is about
fear and shyness, not asceticism.

One of the great contributions of Crawford's "Young Eliot" is to move
beyond the notion that the late, constricted Eliot was always there. 

>>> Chanan Mittal 08/23/15 12:40 PM >>>
In the context of the poem a sensual delight. The ascetic in him must
abjure all temptations of desire. 

On Sunday, August 23, 2015, Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Peaches also constitute a natural laxative which would also be of
concern for an ageing man. 

On Sat, Aug 22, 2015 at 4:07 PM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

This and many other readings are online. But it is not clear which, if
any, apply. There is a website purporting to expose the errors (many) in
the "Gradesaver" account of the poem, but it (the ostensible correcting
site), unfortunately, creates new ones just as egregious. It says, for
example, that it is not accurate to say that "trousers rolled" is a new,
bohemian style--though Conrad Aiken said at the time it was. So what it
and other sites say is varied and confused.

But here are some things about peaches. To "eat a peach" is slang for
cunnilingus. I cannot find how old that is. Rick, can you trace it back?

In China, where they were first cultivated, peaches are symbols of

Also, "It has special significance in Chinese culture: the peach has
mystical attributes, and supposedly brings luck, abundance and

Peach pits are poisonous, so biting one might do more than break a tooth
(one of the anxieties possibly attributed to Prufrock). 

But it is not clear that Prufrock is really aging; Eliot was young (22),
and he said in an interviews in 1962 that Prufrock was partly himself
and partly another, older person. His fear of growing old may not mean
he is doing so. 

Etymological dictionary:

peach (n.)  
c. 1400 (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French pesche "peach, peach
tree" (Old North French peske, Modern French pĂȘche), and directly from
Medieval Latin pesca, from Late Latin pessica, variant of persica
"peach, peach tree," from Latin malum Persicum, literally "Persian
apple," translating Greek Persikon malon, from Persis "Persia" (see

In ancient Greek Persikos could mean "Persian" or "the peach." The tree
is native to China, but reached Europe via Persia. By 1663 William Penn
observed peaches in cultivation on American plantations. Meaning
"attractive woman" is attested from 1754; that of "good person" is from
1904. Peaches and cream in reference to a type of complexion is from
1901. Peach blossom as a color is from 1702. Georgia has been the Peach
State since 1939. [emphasis mine]

(Given the date of "attractive woman," and the metaphor for complexion,
the sexual suggestion may be apt.)

>>> "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]> 08/22/15 3:18 PM >>> 
On Sat, 22 Aug 2015 12:01:42 -0500, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 

>"Do I dare to eat a peach?" 
>Is "peach" a metaphor or, if not, what in 1910ff made it daring to eat

Prufrock is aging. He wonders if he should take up new fashions like a
new hair style or wearing his trousers cuffed. Or, perhaps more
importantly, his teeth are going bad. If he eats a peach he may bite
into the pit and lose a tooth or two. 

Rick Parker