Week Six of #PoetrySummer and Day 1 of Prufrock

Last week my friend and I memorized Spanish poems, both of us choosing Pablo Neruda. Memorizing the poem was surprisingly easy, either because I’m getting better at this or because Neruda is a really awesome poet. I think it’s mostly the latter. The fun part about memorizing these poems has been seeing for the first time the underlying structure of each one. “Puedo Escribir Los Versos Mas Tristes Esta Noche” has been kind of daunting to me, because it repeats a lot of lines and thoughts, sometimes exactly and sometimes with a slight twist, which makes the poem very cool and dreamlike but, by extension, kind of hard to wrap your head around. Memorizing it forced me to find all of the inner logic, and I like the poem even more now. That’s kind of becoming a theme with every poem I memorize.

This week’s poem, as previously announced, is “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” This is a huge poem, and memorizing it in a single week is going to be really hard, so I’ve broken it down into seven pieces. If you’re playing along at home, here’s the piece to memorize today; it’s nice and short to make it easy on the holiday.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

I’ll come back tomorrow with part 2. If you’re memorizing something else this week, let us know.

7 Responses to “Week Six of #PoetrySummer and Day 1 of Prufrock”

  1. Karl Rosencrants says:

    I memorized this poem in high school for a drama competition. Truly a great piece of literature. Admittedly, my english teacher at the time had to explain to me what it meant, but once I understood, I really enjoyed it. Great prom choice, and good luck.

  2. *sigh* I honor everyone (young enough) to do this. Good luck.

    I’ll stick with short stuff.


  3. Robin Weeks says:

    Sorry, Dan, but I had to take a pass on Prufrock. I’m trying to finish an edit this week, so I had to go with something that I could understand. Apparently, that’s death and tragedy. :) http://bit.ly/llF6XM

  4. Sean - Texas says:

    “I do not think that they will sing to me.”

    Easily the most sad, beautiful line in that poem.

  5. Sean - Texas says:

    Ha. I went and re-read the poem only to find that Mr. Elliot had set off that line by itself. It was meant to be powerful.

  6. Wendy says:

    I’m doing Fiddler Jones, which is one of the poems in Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. I won’t post on my blog about it until Sunday, so here’s the text if anyone wants to read it:

    The earth keeps some vibration going
    There in your heart, and that is you.
    And if the people find you can fiddle,
    Why, fiddle you must and for all your life.
    What do you see, a harvest of clover?
    Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
    The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
    for beeves hereafter ready for market;
    Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
    Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
    To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
    Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
    They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
    Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
    How could I till my forty acres
    Not to speak of getting more,
    With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
    Stirred in my brain by crows androbins
    And the creak of a wind-mill—only these?
    And I never started to plow in my life
    That some one did not stop in the road
    And take me away to a dance or picnic.
    I ended up with forty acres;
    I ended up with a broken fiddle—
    And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories.
    And not a single regret.

    It helps a bit to have read Cooney Potter, whose epitaph comes just before Fiddler’s. I love the juxtaposition of the fortune-seeker (Potter) and the jovial musician.

    Hope the Prufrock is going well!

  7. Matthew Watkins says:

    Neruda is definitely my favorite poet. I might be biased since I served an LDS mission in Chile, but he’s still my favorite.

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