T.S. Eliot and Rosmarie Waldrop

The first thing that struck me about T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was how beautiful it sounded. I read it aloud multiple times, not even thinking about the meaning, simply because I liked the way the words sounded together, which is much different than how I felt last week with Stein. The next thing that stuck out to me was Eliot’s striking imagery throughout the poem. It wasn’t until the third or fourth reading that I realized that the poem was about a guy trying to get a date. The imagery and the language almost seem to transcend the subject material. For example, Eliot ends the poem saying, “We have lingered in the chamber of the sea / By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us, and we drown” (Nelson, 282). Eliot’s imagery of the sea and mermaids at the end of the poem is beautiful, but in context of the situation seems almost overdramatic. (Although I’ve never been a guy struggling to approach a pretty girl so how would I know?)

Rosmarie Waldrop also uses beautiful language and striking imagery in her poems. In her poems on depression Waldrop uses the imagery of space to paint a beautiful and overwhelming picture. She says, “Yet the eye’s not a black hole, no matter what its color. Uncluttered by things, it sees inward, into the heart. Which of course may also be empty” (Waldrop, 173). A couple lines later Waldrop continues with the imagery of space saying, “Shrinking cores and exploding peripheries, he says. Supernovae, new Crab Nebulae. A stricken star, but, ah, a lovely light, rose window, chandelier. Perhaps light is only the consciousness of the dark? Like the quick, brilliant flash when the sleep cable snaps and leaves us bereft, stripped of we don’t eve know what, when we would at least hold the promised hand” (Waldrop, 174). However, the overwhelming imagery of space in the context of depression seems appropriate and insightful to me. But maybe to some Eliot’s imagery of drowning and dating also seems appropriate.

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