Individual Close Reading of a Poem
Elements of Literature--Poetry
ENG125/Literature in Society
March 4, 2013
Professor Jaclyn M. Fowler
Imagination, literary conventions, and recognition of specific poetic devices can introduce even the most novices of poetic readers to a level of comprehension that might have been overlooked in casual reading. Most tend to read through a poem without putting much thought into the details and the purpose of those details being placed as they are. Although not always intentional; authors use certain literary conventions and poetic devices to draw the reader in so that they too may envision what was in the author’s mind at the time they wrote the poem. The rest is up to the reader. How much imagination one contributes to the poem is infinitely unrestricted. The study of poetry has and will always be a valuable part of history; especially when dealing with an emotion as universal as love. Interpretation
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot takes the reader on a depressing, timid, overcautious, middle-aged man. It could be said that he is afraid of his own shadow. Eliot begins the poem with a short excerpt from Dante’s epic poem; “Divine Comedy;” to suggest that Prufrock, like Count Guido is in hell. This is an example of allusion. While Count Guido is in the Eighth Circle of Hell; Prufrock is in a hell on earth. Like Count Guido; Prufrock can present his feelings “without fear of infamy.” This comparison is how Eliot uses literary allusion to put the text in a new context under which it assumes new meanings and denotations. They are both in hell because they have both committed sins; however Prufrock’s sins are errors of omission, inaction, hesitation, inadequacy, and lack of self-assertiveness. Eliot shows us how truly unhappy he is with himself; to the point that he believes he deserves a spot in hell. This opening already paints a bleak view on...
References: Eliot, T. S. (2011). The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. In S. Barnet, W. Cain, & W.
Burto (Eds.), Literature for composition: Essays, Stories, Poems, and Plays (9th ed., pp. 199-
202). Boston, MA: Pearson. (Original work published in 1915).
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