Sunday, December 30, 2007

T.S. Eliot - The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

Eliot's "The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock" is one of the great modern poems in the English language, perhaps the most anthologized poem ever. What an amazing poem for a debut -- only "The Waste Land," "The Hollow Men," and "Four Quartets" are in the same league.

Composed mainly between February 1910 and July 1911, the poem was first published in the June 1915 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (Chicago) after Ezra Pound, the magazine's foreign editor, persuaded Harriet Monroe, the magazine's founder, that Eliot was unique: "He has actually trained himself AND modernized himself ON HIS OWN. The rest of the promising young have done one or the other but never both."[3] This was Eliot's first publication of a poem outside of school or university publications.

In June 1917, The Egoist, a small publishing firm run by Leonard and Virginia Woolf, published a pamphlet entitled Prufrock and Other Observations (London), containing twelve poems by Eliot. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was the first poem in the volume.

Eliot's notebook of draft poems, Inventions of the March Hare (published posthumously in 1996 by the publishing firm of Harcourt Brace), includes thirty-eight lines from the middle of the draft version of the poem that were withheld from the initial publication. This section, known as Prufrock's Pervigilium, contains the "vigil" of Prufrock through an evening and night.