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Prufrock and Other Observations   By: (1888-1965)

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By T. S. Eliot

To Jean Verdenal 1889 1915

Certain of these poems appeared first in "Poetry" and "Others"


The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Portrait of a Lady Preludes Rhapsody on a Windy Night Morning at the Window The Boston Evening Transcript Aunt Helen Cousin Nancy Mr. Apollinax Hysteria Conversation Galante La Figlia Che Piange

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse A persona che mai tornasse al mondo, Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero, Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

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.

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

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

And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window panes; 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.

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

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

For I have known them all already, known them all: Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume? And I have known the eyes already, known them all The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin To spit out all the butt ends of my days and ways? And how should I presume?

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

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

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

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! Smoothed by long fingers, Asleep ... Continue reading book >>

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