A love song for “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

With Prufrock getting a fair amount of attention in class I wanted to post a recording of Eliot reading the poem in the hopes that you all will have some line of it repeating in your heads on the way to class. By some great/awful circumstance the first book of poems I ever seriously read (aside from Where the Sidewalk Ends) was Eliot’s collected poems, and by some great circumstance my local record store had a record that included Eliot reading Prufrock. I was generally confused by Eliot (why is he talking about Michelangelo?  What’s up with these claws? Lazarus?) until I listened to the recording. It didn’t suddenly make sense like Eliot’s voice was imbued with some secret timbre that gave me great powers of literary criticism; all that happened was that lines began to echo through my head, and they still do today. In fact, just this weekend I was biking home across campus while reciting it to myself, probably looking like some schizoid character.

As an amateur poet it wasn’t great to have Eliot in my head; I wrote a bunch of very mannered poems.  I would get comments back on workshop poems like “Is the speaker in this a grandpa?” Now that I’m a little more knowledgeable its wonderful to have the lines repeat in my head. I can think about their meanings instead of thinking “man, how can I write a poem that sounds like that.”

Anyway, here’s the recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAO3QTU4PzY. (I tried to make this a cool hyperlink, but I guess you’ll have to copy paste.)

What are the lines that might be repeating in your head?

For me, the line “almost, at times, the Fool.” at the end of the “attendant lord stanza” has been repeating recently.

2 Replies to “A love song for “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.””

  1. Hi Robbie!

    This was a really cool blog post. I just finished listening to the link you posted (and don’t worry I didn’t mind copying and pasting it). It honestly gave me chills. When it first started, I was more like, “This guy’s voice is gonna get on my nerves.” But after a while, once I truly let myself be immersed in the poem, I loved it! I’m not sure what lines are repeating in my head though. Perhaps the line, “I have seen my head grow slightly bald.” I’m not sure why, but I kept thinking about that phrase for a while….

  2. It’s always fun to notice how certain writers influence us at certain points in our lives, even the big guys from times we were never apart of, like Eliot. In high school when I read The Bell Jar, my poetry took on a darker, more existential feel. Thankfully, Plath’s depressing style moved me away from cliche love poems I was writing at 15 ;). I think these influences come when they are supposed to. Maybe writing like a grandpa is simply the first step in experimenting with your own ever-changing voice. It’s all about what you read when you read it, and how you respond to that. But do you dare disturb the universe?

Leave a Reply to Lauren Sarrantonio Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.