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Love Song Explication Essay, Research Paper

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Lines 37-52

In this stanza the man regrets some of the decisions that he has made in his life. The man feels that if he allows himself to reflect upon his past he will have to deal with the emotions and consequences of a life of poor decisions. He questions if there is a chance to turn back the hands of time to, hopefully, bring an opportunity for change in his life, Do I dare? and, Do I dare (Line 38). His physical aging embarrasses him, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair (39). He is very depressed because he is worried about what other people will perceive of him. My morning coat, my collar mounted firmly to my chin, this shows how he is trying to hide the evidence of physical aging by covering it up with clothing (42). This is another sign that he is depressed. He is hoping that with a necktie rich and modest he will appear upstanding, but will not be noticed for being richly dressed (43). He hopes that his colorful piece of clothing will distract others from his thin arms and legs, His arms and legs are thin (44). Once again he is concerned with how people perceive him. He uses imagery to describe how he looks, he is trying to look upstanding and righteous but in reality he is sad and gloomy. Being thin brings up the theme of poverty, physical starvation, or perhaps even the starvation of a life that was wasted by poor judgment. These references to aging reveals this man s feelings of helplessness that increases as the poem continues on and he continues to feel regret about his life. There is the repetition of the phrase Do I dare in which he ponders the question is it worth all of the trouble to be concerned with all of his physical characteristics that God so intentionally gave him (45). These thoughts of which he questions his appearance sets the tone to be of despair and desperation. He badly wants to change his life s history. The question of whether he should or should not disturb the perfect harmony of nature, Do I dare/Disturb the universe? (45-46), brings up his desire to have a moment to turn back time and make different choices. In a minute there is time, this hyperbole describes how he feels that in just one minute he could change his life forever (47). There is paradox with the phrase decisions and revisions these two are contradictory emotions, but no matter how hard they work together this one minute that he desires it could reverse them and change his life forever. The man knows now everything that he should have done. Every day it was clear to him that decisions he made were not the best, Have known the evenings, mornings, and afternoons. (50). He blatantly understates the value of his life, I have measured my life out in coffee spoons (51). He feels that he has just let his life waste away, he has no great achievement to be proud of, nothing to look back on and smile. Measuring out his life in coffee he signifies that he feels that his life was limited to a certain amount. In the last line he realizes that it is hopeless to think Do I dare , there is no chance that he will get a chance to turn back time and change some of his decisions. For him revisiting the past has become too painful. He now knows that the damage has been done and there is nothing to do but wait and see what else happens. This man realizes that his choices were not the best, but in the end his hope for revising these poor decisions no longer exists. Life is a chain of decisions, the choices that you make along the way influence your life after death.

The diction of this poem is both formal and informal. Phrases like, my collar mounted firmly to my chin (44) are more formal while phrases like, I have measured my life out in coffee spoons (51) are more informal. The rhythm of this stanza is mainly poetic. It rhymes most of the words that end each line, but it does not rhyme any of the dare this makes these phrases stand out. It stresses the fact that this man questions should he even be thinking of his past and bringing up this pain. The rhyming of lines 41 through 44 brings out the more poetic side and makes these parts flow a lot smoother. But in the next three lines there is not any rhymes and they stand out and not flow smoothly. The rhyming of dare (38), stair (39), and hair (40) sets a mood of despair. While the rhyming of thin (41), chin (42), and pin (43) sets a mood of desperation. There is also the repetition of the words known them all (49) and dying (52) which helps set the rhythm at the end. With these lines not read as smoothly draws the reader s attention more to this area. In the parts that do not rhyme there is an emphasis on words that begin with D , this could be eluding towards death and how he regrets that nothing good came from his life. In line 48 there is the repetition of the ions sounds and the re sounds.

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