"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
By T.S. Eliot

Markup by Tonya Howe
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Chicago : Harriet Monroe, 1915This digital edition was transcribed and marked up in XML from the first published edition in Poetry. Page images are from the Modernist Journals Project.

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Eliot, TS. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Harriet Monroe, 1915 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. http://anthology.lib.virginia.edu/work/Eliot/eliot-prufrock. Accessed: 2024-04-18T01:50:07.551Z

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[TP] 130 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 percioche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero, Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo. 1Let 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. 15The 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, 131 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. 23And indeed there will be time 24For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, 25Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; 26There will be time, there will be time 27To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; 28There will be time to murder and create, 29And time for all the works and days of hands 30That lift and drop a question on your plate; 31Time for you and time for me, 32And time yet for a hundred indecisions, 33And for a hundred visions and revisions, 34Before the taking of a toast and tea. 35 In the room the women come and go 36 Talking of Michelangelo. 37And indeed there will be time 38To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” 39Time to turn back and descend the stair, 40With a bald spot in the middle of my hair — 41(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”) 42My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, 132 43My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin — 44(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”) 45Do I dare 46Disturb the universe? 47In a minute there is time 48For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. 49For I have known them all already, known them all: 50Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 51I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; 52I know the voices dying with a dying fall 53Beneath the music from a farther room. 54So how should I presume? 55And I have known the eyes already, known them all— 56The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, 57And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, 58When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, 59Then how should I begin 60To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 61And how should I presume? 62And I have known the arms already, known them all— 63Arms that are braceleted and white and bare 64(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!) 65Is it perfume from a dress 66That makes me so digress? 133 67Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl. 68And should I then presume? 69And how should I begin? 70Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets 71And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes 72Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ... 73I should have been a pair of ragged claws 74Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. 75And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 76Smoothed by long fingers, 77Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers, 78Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. 79Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, 80Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 81But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, 82Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, 83I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter; 84I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, 85And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 86And in short, I was afraid. 87And would it have been worth it, after all, 88After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, 134 89Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, 90Would it have been worth while, 91To have bitten off the matter with a smile, 92To have squeezed the universe into a ball 93To roll it towards some overwhelming question, 94To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead, 95Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”— 96If one, settling a pillow by her head 97Should say: “That is not what I meant at all; 98That is not it, at all.” 99And would it have been worth it, after all, 100Would it have been worth while, 101After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, 102After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor— 103And this, and so much more?— 104It is impossible to say just what I mean! 105But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: 106Would it have been worth while 107If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, 108And turning toward the window, should say: 109“That is not it at all, 110That is not what I meant, at all.” 111No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; 112Am an attendant lord, one that will do 135 113To swell a progress, start a scene or two, 114Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, 115Deferential, glad to be of use, 116Politic, cautious, and meticulous; 117Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; 118At times, indeed, almost ridiculous— 119Almost, at times, the Fool. 120I grow old ... I grow old ... 121I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. 122Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? 123I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 124I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. 125I do not think that they will sing to me. 126I have seen them riding seaward on the waves 127Combing the white hair of the waves blown back 128When the wind blows the water white and black. 129We have lingered in the chambers of the sea 130By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown 131Till human voices wake us, and we drown. T. S. Eliot