The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock



"This poem, the earliest of Eliot’s major works, was completed in 1910 or1911 but not published until 1915. It is an examination of the tortured psyche of the prototypical modern man—overeducated, eloquent, neurotic, and emotionally stilted. Prufrock, the poem’s speaker, seems to be addressing a potential lover, with whom he would like to “force the moment to its crisis” by somehow consummating their relationship. But Prufrock knows too much of life to “dare” an approach to the woman: In his mind he hears the comments others make about his inadequacies, and he chides himself for “presuming” emotional interaction could be possible at all. The poem moves from a series of fairly concrete (for Eliot) physical settings—a cityscape (the famous “patient etherised upon a table”) and several interiors (women’s arms in the lamplight, coffee spoons, fireplaces)—to a series of vague ocean images conveying Prufrock’s emotional distance from the world as he comes to recognize his second-rate status (“I am not Prince Hamlet’). “Prufrock” is powerful for its range of intellectual reference and also for the vividness of character achieved." (Sparknotes)

Second Stanza

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.
LoveSong of J. Alfred Prufrock Rev. Animation


Images are similies and metaphors which poets use to communicate their meaning. In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot, the use of imagery is of the greatest importance since its quality is one the most striking and memorable features of his work. The images are used for two main purposes: to clarify a picture, and to express an idea. CAT & FOG IMAGERY:The yellow fog/cat seems to be looking in on the room full of sophisticated women "talking of Michelangelo". Unable to enter, it lingers pathetically on the outside of the house, and we can imagine Prufrock avoiding, yet desiring, physical contact in much the same way. Just as a cat would, Prufrock does not take immediate action which results in procrastination.


SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Eliot’s Poetry.” SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 3 May 2013.