Ode to Friday: Eliot


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,
Slipped 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;
There will be time to murder and create,
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 a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

~ From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T S Eliot (American, 1888-1965)


Image: St Louis 1914, courtesy Literary Kicks


17 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Eliot

  1. Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. Ah, the way that is placed, it leaves us room to use it in our own recalls of moments. The fog can curl about my musings as well, so his sharing invites us in and makes us friends, so powerful a wordsmith he was.


  2. This is an extremely powerful piece of beautifully written poetic literature. Chapeau, for putting it out there to make more people aware of man’s contribution to the other side of his fellowman’s well being. It reminds me of when I lived in LA, California arriving at the airport, you saw a greenish yellow sky, from the pollutants of some 250,000 automobiles per hour that traveled on one of the 3 or 4 major expressways. And that is some 20 years ago.


    • I really like your memory of the LA sky, JJ. Chapeau.

      It brought up two memories for me too. One of a certain colour of light that used to come in the side window when I lived in Cambridge, UK, which was like living in a sepia photo; and also of a night in London coming out of the Tube at Angel and seeing the halo of the lights in the frosty evening road.


      • Punishment? You’re thinking of the effects of pollution?

        I don’t think of that. I think of how the ordinary world looks strange and exciting. A world without strange and exciting is more my kind of punishment.


      • Not at all my dear Narelle. There is no punishment in my world or life. There is beauty, and there is also ugly, where I can even find beauty in that ugly, but not in the ugly that poisons the beauty that all creatures have a right to appreciate without paying with their life for the privilege. The greenish yellow sky I refer to is what I had to breath as a substitute for air for 5 years, when I lived in LA. When it was really thick, was when it cast the most beautiful night time coloured glow, and when it was the most threatening and dangerous killer of life. There is far more important, rich and rewarding beauty of the non-destructive kind, that gives me pleasure without being a lethal threat. Your smiling face is a good for example, my Aussie friend. xxx JJ.


      • Well, I’m glad there are people like you keeping an eye on the environment, JJ. I guess I’m not much of an environmentalist. Or, I’m more interested in our internal environment, let’s say.

        Your comment’s having me recall my stay in LA in the late 80s. I stayed with my cousin who was living there, and I remember lying on the grass in the backyard of her house. The grass was really grassy and there was a tree with oranges in it. And we went to Universal Studios which was nearby and saw a show being recorded called Solid Gold (whaddyaknow?) and Dionne Warwick was singing which seems incredible now. And I remember everyone looking at me oddly when I was walking around the streets because I wasn’t driving. And there was some complicated system of bus tickets, and lots of women of indeterminate age getting on buses wearing big, floppy hats. “They must have had work done”, I remember thinking. And because I have white woman Afro hair I thought I’d arrived in Nirvana when I discovered these shops devoted to products for Afro hair. And my cousin took me to a giant barn-like supermarket and there was a whole aisle of different types of water. Like water for irons, and for cooking or drinking, and so on. And I’d never seen anything like it.


  3. Oh my what a banquet of ideas! Eliot may have begun the whole discussion, but it is wonderful to hear the additional thoughts. Beginning with the poem—several picked my fave line–I can shiver with nervous excitement thinking of a yellow fog licking my window panes! Environmentally speaking–there is yellow fog and green sky in many places unfortunately. London as well as Beijing have both driven me indoors on occasion. My birthplace of Los Angeles used to be filled with the scent of orange blossoms. Unfortunately our population increase and its need for transportation have ruined it in many places. BTW, the picture is marvelous.


    • Hi Kayti. An LA of orange blossoms … I would have liked to get a whiff of that. I remember being surprised seeing the oranges in the tree. “Oh, they really do grow oranges here”, I remember thinking. Always surprising going to a foreign city and seeing stereotypes come to life. I felt the same way about the steam coming out of manholes in New York.


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