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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently remembered "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", a poem I had read in an English class in high school. I remember thinking at the time that I could very much relate to it, and I still can. You can read it here:

http://www.bartleby.com/198/1.html

And here's an explanation:

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/english/English151W-03/prufrock.htm

Here are a couple of excerpts that I really relate to:

"And indeed there will be time/
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?" "
[hesitation to express interest and affection for a woman]

"Then how should I begin/
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?/
And how should I presume?"
[Prufrock doesn't know what to say, and feels that he has nothing interesting to talk about]

"And in short, I was afraid."
[speaks for itself]

"I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me."
[also speaks for itself]

Thoughts, anyone? Have any of you read this poem before?
 

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Well, I've never learned it at school, but it seems I've known about it for years. Parts of it were quoted in a lot of novels and short stories I read over the years, so finally I read it online some years ago.
I didn't really understand it at the time, but I liked the imagery (is this the same thing as saying "I don't read the articles in National Geographic but the pictures in it are very nice?").
Now that I've read the explanation (I'd rather think of it as an interpretation) it makes more sense. I also like it a lot more. I relate more to the bits you quoted, to the images of half-empty streets, the tangled smoke in the streets, and to this quote:
"And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions"

I once read that you had to be knowledgeable in many cultural areas in order to understand TS Eliot's poetry, and my education in this case is a bit lacking, to say the least. Or did they say that just about his poem The Waste Land? I don't remember.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I posted this poem because I often feel like J. Alfred Prufrock. Does anyone else here ever feel the same way?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
quietstorm said:
We analyzed this poem in highschool and wrote an essay on it. I wrote in my essay how it was more about his stream of conciousness and an ode to self loathing than about love for a woman.

I think I can relate to it, it's pretty sad. I like it and how you can take different stances on it.
Interesting interpretation. Yes, this poem could also speak more to general self-loathing. The interpretation I linked also said it could be about the feeling of frustration and impotence of modern people. It could be about romanticizing over past eras, which some might consider to be more interesting eras than today. The women in the poem might be speaking of Michelangelo not because they are comparing him to Prufrock, but because he is from an era that they think is far more interesting. In that case, the women also are stuck in a state of boredom, not just Prufrock.

I think the interpretation about love for a woman is still a good one as well. Good literature has multi-layered symbolism that can be interpreted in many ways, and that's why people can still argue today about things that were written centuries ago. The critical academic dialog goes back and forth, and since the authors are long dead, we can't ask them what they meant!
 
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