Posted in Poetry

Poetry post: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

Today’s post is inspired by Elon Musk’s tweet:

This is one of my favorite poems too and it’s been a while since I read it. But it has such beautiful rhythm, I never get tired of it.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

I’m tempted to put the whole poem here, but it’s too long for that so I’m just picking my favorite parts.

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

This part always reminds of The Chocolate War, an amazing book whose protagonist thinks of those lines when he has a difficult choice to make:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

It’s a sad poem. It tells the story of a man who has something important to say and in the end, doesn’t dare to take a risk and actually say it, but keeps wondering Would it have been worth while…  The description of his feelings while he tries to decide if he’s gonna say it or not time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions is such an accurate portrayal of a person trying to make himself feel brave but already giving himself a way out: I don’t have to go through with this, I still have time to change my mind. It’s something I relate to a lot and considering the popularity of the poem, I think a lot of other people find it relatable too.




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