T. S. Elliot’s Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock. J. Alfred still sings.

Prufrock, J. Alfred. Thank you for being a part of my life and memory. Although I didn’t “get” all of Elliot’s sung interpretation of what love you had for another, I quote, as others do, your great lines of passion and mystery. I know C.S. Lewis disagreed with T. S.’s description of an “evening spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table.” So what?

Last night I saw the patient being etherized as the sun drifted off to sleep in the west. The colors blended as if in a drug induced coma, laying (lying?) on the air as the evening shifted and settled into night. I dared to describe it to the two sitting with me. I didn’t do justice to what all six of our eyes were taking in. “I dared to eat a peach” and was so glad my “you” was next to me. The “you” of “Let us go then, you and I.” Barbara, my friend and confidant.

One of my daughters sat with us as she measured out her “life in coffee spoons.” She in her tussle with depression may be asking if she “dare disturb the universe?” Poor thing, I know all too well the resounding clang of symbols which drown out life. She has disturbed my universe, and I am the better for it.

“It is impossible to say what I mean.”

Ah Prufrock, so accurate your aim. Isn’t it Lewis that said in his last novel, Til We Have Faces:

“Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.”

The art and joy of words? Indeed. All anyone ever wants, at the core of connection, is a transference of exact meaning, is it not? Yet your love song, J. Alfred, is riddled with subtlety and it draws me back again and again. We don’t necessarily need blanket statements but blankets to warm our disconnections. Blankets big enough to wrap around our “I and Thou” as Buber said.

So whether it is “Let us go then, you and I,” or the “I and Thou” of existence we non-atheists adhere to, the subtle connections keep us moving toward growing old with “our trousers rolled” each rolling up the other’s.

Most of the quotes above are from Eliot’s poem unless otherwise noted.

Below is the poem in its entirety.


Do you have a poem that has drawn you back to it over and over?


  1. yes – there is one poem that i love especially and that i re-read again and again.. i think you would like it as well.. it’s by bob hicok – one of my fav poets
    love the quotes… sometimes someone else finds just the right words to express what we always felt but never found the words to express it

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