The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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T. S. Eliot

In looking closely at two of poet T. S. Eliot’s poems, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “The Wasteland,” you can better understand how Eliot brought a new perspective to traditional experiences in early twentieth-century poetry.

In “The Wasteland,” Eliot expresses his disillusionment and sense of alienation in modern society, which is captured in the imagery of the following lines (19–24):

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.

In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the speaker serves as an anti-hero, sharply contrasting with the characterization of the traditional hero in literature.

Learn more about Eliot’s message in this poem by clicking on the link below to access the Grolier Online™ Encyclopedia Americana article “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

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