Hello...Im a grade 12 student and we are interpreting a poem written by Alfred Prufrock. I am having a bit of trouble trying to decided what exactly is going on....it is very confusing. Any assistance at all would be great! Thanks a bunch....keep on smiling!
Well, it's rough to begin with because the poem is about a guy thinking about getting old and how he feels about it. There's no "story" hidden there in code.
Start with the introduction here:
This website also has links to explain some of the classical references in the poem.
After that, it's ALL subject to interpretation.
If you have questions about specific lines or images, post here again.
This poem was written by T.S. Eliot while he was in Paris and Munich between 1910 and 1911.
The Italian verse at the begining is from Dante's Inferno, chapter 27, lines 61-66.
There are a lot of references to other works by Marvell, Shakespear, the Bible.
Hugh probably knows a web site that can explain all the references.
I bow to Marian's expertise. I did once find a reference to the,
Do I dare to eat a peach?
line, but it escapes me for the moment.
One of the effects Eliot uses throughout this work is to build up to an idea, only to switch to disappointment. Example-
"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky"
Sounds romantic, doesn't it? Next line-
"Like a patient etherized upon a table"
Whoops- so much for romance.
It keeps on like this- the mermaids won't sing, the woman says 'that wasn't what I meant,'- this guy just can't win.
I never imagined that "dare to eat a peach" was a reference to anything earlier, but I'd like to know if it is.
Thereare more recent things that refer TO IT. There's an Allman Brothers album called EAT A PEACH and a movie called EAT THE PEACH ...
and a movie called I HAVE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING ... etc.
I will send it along the next time I stumble across it. A brief net search just now failed to turn it, so it was likely in a book somewhere.
Another thing to remember about the "peach" line is that peach is almost universally poetic sex symbolism.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is one of the most treasure-filled poems I have ever read. I wish you would truly dig into it, not just assume it's written by "Alfred Prufrock," for goodness sakes.
Grrr! I wish I could find it now. Rattling around in the back of my mind is the notion that it had something to do with, um, toilet (hey, a palindrome!) regularity.
Oops! That's an emordnilap, not a palindrome, sorry.
What a coinciedence! I just read this poem last night for my lit class. I have one of tose handy used textebooks in which the previous owners scriblled many, many, notes in the margins. Well, next to peaches he or she wrote "messy". Does that flicker any lightbulbs, Hugh?
"Messy" always in my mind referred to the fact that those of the elite, wouldn't risk getting their clothes dirty by eating something as messy as a peach. But I've heard of other references too, about peaches, sexual and organic.
One of those "many levels" things which great writers toss out like bones with varying degrees of meat upon them which we dogs of academia love to chew upon for days and days.
I have seen the messy fingers thing about that line as well, but it was not the speculation I was failing to remember, sadly. The memory is the second thing to go, ya know. No, silly, the knees are the first!
I take it that Prufrock's hesitance to eat a peach is partly fear of getting peach juice on his clothes (and he doesn't have a spare outfit), partly fear of upsetting his bowels ...
If there is ALSO a literary reference, I don't know it.
by the way the poem is written by one Mr.T.S.Elliot and not my J.Alfred Prufock....Prufock is the character in the poem....the poem talks bout a man in his middle age where he is contemplating as the what all has happened in his life and whether he will be happy with his love or in the end they both will feel that it wasnt worth it...regrets and stuff....
Oh, dear, I have just discovered that today is Maundy Thursday.
trying to decided what exactly is going on ...
Al Prufrock, a lover with angst
Was fruitless, though sweetly he sangst;
Was his burning ambition
But nightly was left to his wankst.
Oh, you could've spelt it with the 'g' Hugh -
Post Edited (04-08-04 15:26)
News to me, thangst!