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'Prufrock and Baudelaire'. Something that interests me is the influence that European literature, and particularly Baudelaires work has on Eliots poetry.

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Jacques Cockell (I) ?The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock? Something that interests me is the influence that European literature, and particularly Baudelaire?s work has on Eliot?s poetry. Eliot is famous for his typical, squalid cityscapes, but this image of the city as a dirty and hazy place originates directly from Baudelaire?s description of the city in ?Les Fleurs du Mal?. In ?Prufrock?, Eliot describes a city in which ?The yellow fog?rubs its back upon the window-panes? a description not to dissimilar to that of Baudelaire?s in ?Les Sept Vieillards?: ?Un brouillard sale et jaune? Another key idea in Baudelaire?s poetry is that of time ? time as the eternal enemy, a synonym of degradation and decay. As humans we are forever yearning for eternal life and heaven, described ?Ideal? in Baudelaire, our lives are defined by time and therefore the Ideal becomes all the more inaccessible; humanity?s helplessness when it comes to this matter is symbolized in the imagery of the line, ?Like a patient etherized upon a table? humanity is unable to fight against ...read more.


reminds us and Prufrock of our inevitable demise, as well as the need to love and make love while we are still able to. It also reminds us of the fact that we can reach the Ideal and this feeling of eternal life through love and women. In the poem Eliot describes the relationship between Prufrock and a woman, ?Let us go then, you and I?, and noticeably, ?Time for you and time for me?. Through this relationship, Eliot describes a failed attempt in reaching the Ideal: ?Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels/And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells?. Contrasted with this tragic, yet slightly more spontaneous type of love is something as routine as the ?taking of the toast and tea?. This line is almost poignant as now we realize that it is too late for this relationship to blossom into something more meaningful and powerful, something that could provide them with but a few hours of relief from time. ...read more.


This builds to the line ‘I grow old… I grow…’ The way in which the phrase ‘I grow old’ is repeated naturally suggests the senility of Prufrock, almost as if he has forgotten what he’s saying. It also evokes the image of an old man reflecting on what he has become, wistfully thinking of his youth. Of course it’s not just in Prufrock that we can see various different elements of Baudelaire’s influence on Eliot’s poetry, but Eliot in this one poem Eliot combines many of Baudelaire’s philosophies. His Baudelairean cityscapes are present in nearly all of his poems, and in ‘The Waste Land’, Eliot actually quotes Baudelaire: ‘Hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère!’ Eliot stresses the fact that the reader is just as much part of the Waste Land as the people in the actual poem – ‘You! ‘Hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère!’, and this technique is similar to the one used in ‘‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’. As well as implying the company of a woman, Eliot includes the reader in his description of Prufrock’s progression from young man into senile, old ‘Fool’: ‘Let us go then, you and I…’ ...read more.

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