239/365 A poem I immediately loved but didn’t begin to understand until recently

You know which poem of which I speak. It’s probably the most quoted poem in English — or at least one of them…

“In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo”

“Do I dare to eat a peach?”

“I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.”

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;”

“Let us go then, you and I”

It wasn’t until I became self-conscious of doing things that seemed more fitting for younger people (eating messy peaches, rolling up pant legs and walking on a beach) that I could identify with this narrator.

One day not long ago, looking at my coffee spoon on a napkin I thought, this morning is just like yesterday morning and tomorrow morning will be just like this morning and the mornings before that.

Of course the Atlantic has a different take: When T.S. Eliot Invented the Hipster

And here Monica Lewinsky has written an Ode to the poem in Variety: Monica Lewinsky: My Love Song to J. Alfred Prufrock

So perhaps I don’t understand this poem at all!

7 thoughts on “239/365 A poem I immediately loved but didn’t begin to understand until recently

  1. When people talk about understanding poems, I always remember presenting my analysis of an Emily Dickinson poem to my college class. The instructor said, “That was very interesting, but you’re wrong. That’s not what she meant at all.” I said, “How can anyone know that? She’s dead. She was dead before her poems were even discovered.”

  2. Okay, I had never heard of this poem. (Yes, my poetic education is woefully lacking. But it’s better than many in NZ.) Now I’m going to have to read it, listen to it, with real attention. And who would have thought Monica Lewinsky would make an appearance in Poetry Month?

  3. I hadn’t heard of this poem either. And holy moly, you cover a lot of territory in this post. I’m off to read about the invention of hipsters and Monica’ s reinvented self.

  4. I secretly loved this poem. This was because when I was a Lit major eons ago, every guy in the department who fancied himself a poet would dramatically quote it, as if that proved something about their own ability. Cads, and hollow men, all! But I loved the flow of the words, and treasured it without admitting it.

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