Prufrock: Truer Now than Then

I read a little T.S. Eliot last night (he said with extreme modesty), Prufrock to be exact. I haven’t read it in full since high school. It was enjoyable. I won’t attempt to comment too much on it except to say, it ain’t for everyone and it’s probably hard for most folks to interpret (self included).

I think I “get” it on a more emotional level than when I was first introduced to the poem. The frustration with inaction, the sense of impending age with little to show for it, I gets it now that I’m north of 30 (I know, “wait till you’re knocking on 50”). Anyhow, here are a few of the less famous passages I want to share (mostly) without comment (find the entire thing here.)

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky

I’d forgotten evenings could do that.

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker

I’d happily settle for a flicker of greatness.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

I’d happily settle for composing three lines that could touch those.


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