Sunday, May 25, 2014

T.S. Eliot and Disturbing the Universe

I cannot recall where I’d first heard the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, I know it wasn’t in the 
classroom where most hear it.  To this day it will remain a mystery as to where I was first introduced to T.S.
 Eliot but the poem has lingered in my mind and seeped into my heart in the way only a truly wonderful piece 
of art can.

I’ve heard complaints from English students about this poem, how it just doesn’t make sense. It sounds 
pretty, but what is the point they will ask. To close friends who ask me why this poem speaks volumes to
me I simple reply: I think the way the poem is written. It’s as if T.S. Eliot pried into my mind dissecting how
 I think, in panicked run on sentences like I only have a moment to decide my life; a span of eighty years in a
 collection of seconds. Often, if observed carefully you’ll find my writing to reflect this inner chaos.

The poem begins slowly, and I will not pretend to be an analytical master of all things poetry, as though
 starting a stroll, viewing the miles ahead as a journey worth taking time stepping through. Eliot paints an
 image of skies lit with oranges and reds like a fire building in a pit and how the glow butters the evening and
 every person, place and thing of this earth.  Why Michelangelo? Why stop to make this observation. I argue
 it cannot be helped.  The mind does not run on a single track, it is a station flooded and flowing and jammed
 with arrivals and departures of thought.  In the room women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo. 
This line is the first piece of evidence that this poem is merely a train of thought, warping through the mind of 
an individual. Of a man just like you and I.

The term ‘warping’ used in the previous sentence is rather fitting to describe this poem.  For any of you who 
have seen one of the latest Star Trek movies and observed how the directors decided to represent warp 
speed, this poem reflects that journey. You see the sky almost pull back, stretching out slowly before the 
ship appears to catapult forward as space rushed past.  Eliot begins slowly, and then everything rushes 
forward faster than can be comprehended.  

There will be time? But how will there be time with these questions on our tongues? Are there answers, 
more frighteningly are there not? Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?  For many years I’ve suffered from a 
gnawing anxiety that consumes every second of my life; imagine the nervousness before taking a test or 
giving a speech in front of a crowded room but have it linger and amplify with every beat of your heart. 
Sometimes it feels as though my existence disturbs the universe, as though any thought had would be better 

I do not want to linger past the point of full attention analyzing this piece of literature. I offer one piece of 
advice: If you read this poem like a sinking man you will understand it. Till human voices wake us, and we 

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