T.S. Eliot

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The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

	S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
	A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
	Questa fiamma staria senza pu scose.
	Ma perciccche glammai di questo fondo
	Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
	Senza tena d'infamia ti rispondo.

 Let us go then, you and I,
 When the evening is spread out against the sky
 Like a patient etherised 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.

 In the room the women come and go
 Talking of Michelangelo.

 The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
 The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
 Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
 Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
 Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
 Sipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
 And seeing that it was a soft October night,
 Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

 And indeed there will be time
 For the yellow smoke that slides along the street
 Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
 There will be time, there will be time
 To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
 And time for all the works and days of hands
 That lift and drop a question on your plate;

 Time for you and time for me,
 And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
 And for a hundred visions and revisions,
 Before the taking of a toast and tea.

 In the room the women come and go
 Talking of Michelangelo.

 And indeed there will be time
 To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
 Time to turn back and descend the stair,
 With a bald spot in the middle of my hair--
 [They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!"]
 My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
 My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin--
 [They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!"]
 Do I dare
 Disturb the universe?
 In a minute there is time
 For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

 For I have known them all already, known them all--
 Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
 I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
 I know the voices dying with a dying fall
 Beneath the music form a farther room.
 	So how should I presume?

 And I have known the eyes already, known them all--
 The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
 And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
 When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
 Then how should I begin
 To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
 	And how should I presume?

 And I have known the arms already, known them all--
 Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
 [But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
 Is it perfume from a dress
 That makes me so digress?
 Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  	And should I then presume?
	And how should I begin?

 	.	.	.

 Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
 And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
 Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?...

 I should have been a pair of ragged claws
 Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

 	.	.	.

 And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
 Smoothed by long fingers,
 Asleep...tired...or it malingers,
 Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
 Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
 Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
 But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
 Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald]
 	brought in upon a platter,
 I am no prophet--and here's no great matter;
 I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
 And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and
 And in short, I was afraid.

 And would it have been worth it, after all,
 After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
 Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
 Would it have been worth while,
 To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
 To have squeezed the universe into a ball
 To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
 To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
 Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all" --
 If one, settling a pillow by her head,
 	Should say: "That is not what I meant at all.
	That is not it, at all."

 And would it have been worth it, after all,
 Would it have been worth while,
 After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
 After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail
 	along the floor--
 And this, and so much more?--
 It is impossible to say just what I mean!
 But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a
 Would it have been worth while
 If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
 And turning toward the window, should say:
 	"That is not it at all,
	That is not what I meant, at all."

	.	.	.

 No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
 Am an attendant lord, one that will do
 To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
 Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
 Deferential, glad to be of use,
 Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
 Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
 At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
 Almost, at times, the Fool.

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

 Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
 I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
 I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

 I do not think that they will sing to me.

 I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
 Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
 When the wind blows the water white and black.

 We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
 By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
 Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

A Song for Simeon

 Lord, they Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
 The winder sun creeps by the snow hills;
 The stubborn season has made stand.
 My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
 Like a feather on the back of my hand.
 Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
 Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

 Grant us they peace.
 I have walked many years in this city,
 Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
 have given and taken honour and ease.
 There went never any rejected from my door.
 Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children's
 When the time of sorrow is come?
 They will take to the goat's path, and the fox's home,
 Fleeing from foreign faces and the foreign swords.

 Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
 Grant us thy peace.
 Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
 Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
 Now at this birth season of decease,
 Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
 Grant Israel's consolation
 To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

 According to thy word.
 They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
 With glory and derision,
 Light upon light, mounting the saints' stair.
 Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
 Not for me the ultimate vision.
 Grant me thy peace.
 (And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
 Thine also).
 I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
 I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
 Let they servant depart,
 Having seen thy salvation.

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