The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock was T. S. Eliot’s first important publication and it has often been called the first masterpiece of Modernism in English Literature. Through this poem, Eliot presents the despair and passivity of a middle-aged man, Alfred J Prufrock. The poem was most probably written between 1910 and 1911.
T. S. Eliot originally entitled this poem Prufrock Among the Women. He changed the title to The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock before publishing the poem in a poetry magazine in 1915 (Ezra Pound). The pome is typically not of the 20th century but of all ages. It deals with the emotional frustration and despair, the hollowness of human beings living at any period in history. This poem is written in the form of a “Dramatic Monologue”.
About T. S. Eliot (As A Poet)
Thoman Streams Eliot; most commonly known as T. S. Eliot, is one of the significant poets of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 for his contribution to modern poetry. When T. S. Eliot died, Robert Giroux wrote,
“The World become a lesser place.”
In 1911 he wrote his first and most acclaimed poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The Waste Land, Ash Wednesday, Four Quarters, The Journey of the Magi, The Hollow Men, Morning at Widow, and The Hippopotamus are some of his good poems. He has also written seven plays.
The theme of the poem
Social Anxiety, Lack of Spirituality, Loneliness, Love, Criticism Of the Modern age. Isolation and Mental instability is the theme of the Poem The Love Song by J. Alfred Prufrock.
The setting of the Poem
The Setting of this poem is a big, dirty modern city. Here the poet does not mention any particular name of the city but it seems representative of other great cities of modern western civilization.
About The Title
Originally the poem was entitled “Prufrock Among the Women” but later before his publication in poetry magazine, the title was changed to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The title of the poem indicates a romantic love situation, it is used ironically by the poet. The name Prufrock has been derived from the name of a furniture dealer in St. Louis.
structure and Form
This is a poem of about 132 lines and an epigraph of 6 lines taken from the Dante Divine Comedy. This love song by J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot is primarily written in free verse. This means that most lives do not follow a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern.
Love Song Poem Analysis
In the poem, Eliot shows the sordid and aimless modern life. He shows the inner conflict duality, disintegration, and irresolution of the modern man. Eliot seems to say that modern life has been devoid of purpose and there is no spiritual direction. Juxtaposes the title it is an anti–romantic poem. It records Prufrock’s recoil from love rather than his engagement in love.
Prufrock is a middle-aged dandy who has seen much of the city life with its meaningless socializing and decadent values. He wants to make love with a Lady but he does not have the mental courage to disclose it. He is indecisive and passive, unable to take any initiative. His personal failure, together with his experience with life and society, makes him totally frustrated. He wants to get relief from such a situation by taking a walk-in city.
Prufrock is not going to the lap of nature to breathe fresh air. Rather, his Journey would be in a half-deserted street on a foggy evening. The street is a half-deserted street because people leave the street in the evening and go to their homes. Again the streets are surrounded by cheap hotels and dirty restaurants. People spend their nights there but do not get proper rest and sleep.
The streets run in a winding course leading people to no destination. These winding streets are compared with a tedious argument. These lines are reflective of the protagonist’s state of mind. He is in a restless situation and he feels lonely and isolated. Yet he has no escape rotate to get rid of his isolation and boredom. Prufrock suffers from a lack of will and hesitation. He takes a decision that is immediately postponed and revised. Various thoughts crisscross his mind like the winding streets.
Prufrock is timid and nervous lacking boldness. He is so paralyzed by his will that he himself does not dare to utter the Overwhelming Question of proposing to a Lady. He hesitates to offer his heart’s desire to the lady because he thinks that whatever he says to the lady will be answered by,
“That is not I meant at all/ That is not it at all.”
Prufrock is a middle-aged dandy with some Physical limitations. He afraid that
“With a bold spot in the middle of my hair.”
He is conscious that he is being aged as he says,
“I grow old. ….. I grow old……
All through the poem Prufrock remains in his room. He is so infirm in will that she is ready for a hundred indecision, and for a hundred visions and revisions. It seems that while remaining in his room, he is content to imagine himself going through the streets. He wears clothes of the latest fashion to hide his age and to cover his boldness, yet he cannot gather the courage to offer his love.
Prufrock’s timidity results from his experience with the society in which he lives. He is already known the hollowness and meaninglessness of his own life. He has also known the frivolity and artificiality of the women, as he says,
“For I have known them all already,
known them all…”
Although he feels an attraction to the lady, he is aware of their worthlessness. In this sense too, the poem is no praising song of love.
Thus, the title of The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock neatly undermines the romantic association of Love Song with the ridiculous name Prufrock. The poem records the love wish of a man with neither the physical, vigor nor mental courage to propose love. Instead of depicting o the joy, bliss, and hope of Love, the poem reveals the helplessness and pathos of the protagonist.
Eliot very effectively portrays the pollution and shabbiness that are associated with modern city life. People are in decayed and sordid surroundings and leading hopeless life. The poet aptly reveals the boredom, loneliness, and frustration of modern society. Here the condition of Prufrock is symbolic of the condition of modern urbanized civilization. Thus, the title of the poem seems quite justified.