Modern and Contemporary American Poetry
Reading journal 1: T. S. Eliot (03/16/2001)
Instructor: Ray Schulte
Name & ID: Cathy Chen 485640398
On ¡§The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock¡¨
This reading journal will deal with T. S. Eliot¡¦s ¡§The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.¡¨ I will give some analysis on this poem and also present my reflection.
This poem is mainly talking about how J. Alfred Prufrock confines himself to the ground and the way he views himself and the high class women, how much he desires to have physical contact with the women he sees in the party, how he is limited by his own imagination and finally commits suicide. This poem also reflects the conflicts the modern people sink in, attempt to do something but at the same time, being lack of confidence and care too much about others¡¦ comments on them.
The beginning of this poem is a quotation taken from Dante¡¦s Inferno, which Guido da Monrefeltro tells the shame of his evil life to Dante because he believes that Dante will never return to earth to report it. The English translation of it is ¡§if I thought that my reply would be to one who would ever return to the world, this flame would stay without further movement; but since none has ever returned alive from this depth, if I hear is true, I answer you without fear of infamy.¡¨ While first seeing the title of this poem, people are easily to lead to possess an expectation of reading a love poem addressed by J. Alfred Prufrock toward some lady. Later on when I finished it, I found no romantic elements in it. But we can tell from the family name of the speaker that he is probably a noble person.
In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker is inviting someone to a party or anything like a meet in the evening. ¡§Let us go, you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky¡¨, actually, the you here refers to the speaker¡¦s inner self. So there are not two persons to go to the party but only one, the speaker himself, but due to his timidity, he needs companion and also someone to encourage him to take action, therefore he invites his inner self to make their visit. Then ¡§In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo¡¨ is revealing how high class the women he see in the room are, talking of the great artist of Renaissance. Then the several following stanzas, T. S. Eliot took the image of cat to imply that the speaker wants to have sexual contact with the women, but again due to his timidity, he finds himself lots of excuses to postpone the question he attempts to propose to the women. As I have mentioned above that Prufrock is a noble person, so we can say that he is also one of the high class society and relating to the quotation from Dante¡¦s Inferno, the society Prufrock is in is basically a hell. Then once again, the speaker mentions the high class women talking of Michelangelo. The stanza after it is suggesting that Prufrock is getting older and older and his physical condition is not so good as before. But still, he questions himself and tells himself that there still be time for proposing that question and mo need to make a decision now.
Then Prufrock describes how well he knows about those women and what is very special is that he looks at women in pieces, eyes and arms, but not as a whole, which makes people relate it to murder.
Hereafter, I start to get a little bit confused. What I know is that Prufrock keeps getting old and he imagines that the mermaids in the sea sing each to each but will never sing to him, which infers that people surrounding him would ignore him because of his flaw on his physical condition. The broad imagination of Prufrock is like he is on a sea unconsciously but later becomes conscious while a human voice suddenly tells him that ¡§hey, you are on the sea¡¨ and drowns himself.
I think Prufrock is pathetic and miserable. He has settled down what will be happening if he stretches his hands out and tries to contact others. The pre-settled consequences never happen because while Prufrock predicts those, he is at the same time finds himself excuses and postpones what he would have done. Nowadays, lots of people are like Prufrock, paying too much attention on their own flaw and care too much about others¡¦ eyes. I do not think I am like Prufrock and we all should learn to have our own way and our own style and hence being confident of ourselves. And I also think that it is ironic to put ¡§love song¡¨ in the title since Prufrock is such a greener in showing love.