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Thread: Sexual encounter at the start of The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock

  1. #1
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    Jul 2015

    Sexual encounter at the start of The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock

    HI All,
    I recently reread the poem after many years, and noticed the following lines in a new light:

    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

    Its a sexual encounter. Eliot mixes up the dirtiness, smog filled London evening with the dirtiness and seediness of one of Prufrock's sexual encounters.
    It's a beautiful, innovative & provocative piece of poetry. The extended metaphor, the rhythm and musicality of the lines perfectly balanced with a very explicit description of the act. To my mind, no poet had ever dared to write such a thing prior to this.

    There's a bit of warm up - stroking, touching - the first 2 lines. Then it heats up with some oral in the next 2 lines (line 4 - eww). Then we (probably) go into missionary. Then penetrate. Then come (almost immediately). Then a perfunctory cuddle and.... what do guys do, ladies? They fall asleep...

    Suddenly the lines make perfect sense.

    This is after all his "love song", his embarrassing, guilty confession "for your ears only". It makes sense that there's a bit of guiltily disclosed, painfully honest sexual activity in his monologue.

    Nobody's ever pointed this out before (to my knowledge). What do you guys all think? Am I crazy or is this what you see too?

    It has completely changed my view of who TS Eliot is as a poet.

  2. #2
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Somewhere in the South East of England
    I'd be interested in what others think. I thought it was describing the fog in terms of a cat. But your theory would give a whole new edge to the poem. Indeed a point to it.

    PS. Welcome - good to have a new member with good ideas.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  3. #3
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Near Chicago, Illinois USA
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    I thought it was acting like a cat also, but since it is not a cat and there is that falling asleep part, who knows?

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