Monday, July 23, 2007

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Proofrock" by T. S. Eliot

Read this several times out loud to yourself - you'll begin "feel" where to pause, where to breath, where to slow down, where to hurry on...keep doin it - when you got it down read it to a favorite person aloud - you'll both see why this is one of the greatest poems ever written (It should be read aloud with cadence - actually - my opinion - all poetry should be read aloud)

1 Let us go then, you and I,
2 When the evening is spread out against the sky
3 Like a patient etherized upon a table;
4 Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
5 The muttering retreats
6 Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
7 And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
8 Streets that follow like a tedious argument
9 Of insidious intent
10 To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
11 Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"

12 Let us go and make our visit.
13 In the room the women come and go
14 Talking of Michelangelo.

15 The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
16 The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
17 Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
18 Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
19 Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
20 Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
21 And seeing that it was a soft October night,
22 Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

23 And indeed there will be time
24 For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
25 Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
26 There will be time, there will be time
27 To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
28 There will be time to murder and create,
29 And time for all the works and days of hands
30 That lift and drop a question on your plate;
31 Time for you and time for me,
32 And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
33 And for a hundred visions and revisions,
34 Before the taking of a toast and tea.

35 In the room the women come and go
36 Talking of Michelangelo.

37 And indeed there will be time
38 To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
39 Time to turn back and descend the stair,
40 With a bald spot in the middle of my hair --
41 (They will say: 'How his hair is growing thin!")
42 My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
43 My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin --
44 (They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
45 Do I dare
46 Disturb the universe?
47 In a minute there is time
48 For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

49 For I have known them all already, known them all:
50 Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
51 I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
52 I know the voices dying with a dying fall
53 Beneath the music from a farther room.
54 So how should I presume?

55 And I have known the eyes already, known them all--
56 The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
57 And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
58 When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
59 Then how should I begin
60 To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
61 And how should I presume?

62 And I have known the arms already, known them all--
63 Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
64 (But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
65 Is it perfume from a dress
66 That makes me so digress?
67 Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
68 And should I then presume?
69 And how should I begin?

70 Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
71 And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
72 Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...

73 I should have been a pair of ragged claws
74 Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

* * * *

75 And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
76 Smoothed by long fingers,
77 Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
78 Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
79 Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
80 Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
81 But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
82 Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
83 I am no prophet -- and here's no great matter;
84 I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
85 And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
86 And in short, I was afraid.

87 And would it have been worth it, after all,
88 After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
89 Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
90 Would it have been worth while,
91 To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
92 To have squeezed the universe into a ball
93 To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
94 To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
95 Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"
96 If one, settling a pillow by her head
97 Should say: "That is not what I meant at all;

98 That is not it, at all."

99 And would it have been worth it, after all,
100 Would it have been worth while,
101 After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
102 After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor --
103 And this, and so much more?--
104 It is impossible to say just what I mean!
105 But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
106 Would it have been worth while
107 If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
108 And turning toward the window, should say:
109 "That is not it at all,
110 That is not what I meant, at all."

111 No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

112 Am an attendant lord, one that will do
113 To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
114 Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
115 Deferential, glad to be of use,
116 Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
117 Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
118 At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
119 Almost, at times, the Fool.

120 I grow old ... I grow old ...
121 I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

122 Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
123 I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
124 I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

125 I do not think that they will sing to me.

126 I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
127 Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
128 When the wind blows the water white and black.
129 We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
130 By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

131 Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

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