poor prufrock

Well, we are nicely engaged in the poetry unit in class, and it’s something that is always painful….oh so painful. I wish I could shake every teacher who ever stood up in a Language Arts class and broke poetry for young students. By the time I get these adults, all they know is that they hate poetry, or that the only good poetry rhymes and looks like a sonnet. And yet, these are the same people who walk in with their ipods blasting music into their heads. Because they don’t know music is poetry. So I start with this music video:

They seem to respond well. I know I love it — not just the song but the whole visual juxtaposition of opposites, reflections, black and white. Simply beautiful. (as an aside, I wonder if I could slip a little theology of the body in there, covert-like).

Anyway, as way leads on to way, we will somehow end up with good ole J. Alfred Prufrock and his elusive love song. Ha! This one is for you, Danny:

I grow old … I grow old … 120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

The truth is this poem is actually pretty meaningful to me — as a twenty-year-old it shook me up enough to have me dare to follow literature … and shortly after that I changed my major. In the 27 years since, I have taught the poem on and off.  There’s some wisdom in the advice from lit profs to never teach anything that is close to one’s heart, but every once in a while I dust off Prufrock and subject him to the abuse of my classes. It’s not for them, it’s for me…a selfish moment? Nah, I prefer to call it survival. I teach poetry for myself. It amazes me that they embrace it.

So without further ado, the lines that impacted me:

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?


Yes I do.

3 thoughts on “poor prufrock

  1. Tis my favorite poem ever since Dr. Moss in 12th grade and then my favorite line was always:

    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
    I do not think that they will sing to me.

    But as an adult now I’m blessed and I think they ended up singing to me in spades.

    I am growing old though :-/

    1. the consolation is that no matter how old you get, I’ll be older, right?

      that was really beautiful of you, by the way. who said we can’t ever be serious with each other?

      PS, Dr. Moss must have really felt those lines you quoted. He often shared some sadness with me about growing old and being alone. Caught me off guard, since he made it his business to prove how ill-prepared and inept I was as a rookie teacher. Funny the things I hold on to … Miss Fowler rescued me from his bitterness on several occassions.

      REmember Mr. Heilburg? Was that his name? I can’t hear anyone whistle without thinking of him.

  2. Thanks. Goes well with a cup of coffee. I used to read poetry, back in the day. Got away from it somehow. You’ve poked me a bit…must dig out some of my books.

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