Wednesday, April 13, 2011


On Friday, Chick Litz is going to be throwing a huge poem bonanza. They are releasing their new chapbook, "How to Get a Job as a Mermaid."

On the subject of marine dwelling guys and gals (and since it is still National Poetry Month), I'll talk about my favorite "canonical" poet. Thomas Stearns Eliot!

Eliot's stuff is all about broken emotion and communication. I love broken writing. It reflects everything about us we don't want to recognize. We don't want to see our failures in what we read. We just want success. SUCCESS SUCCESS SUCCESS. Sometimes, failure is good to look at, to understand. To enjoy a little bit, even.

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is one of my favorite poems of all time. It is claustrophobic. All of the information Eliot shoots at you just sinks you deeper. And then some mermaids drown you. MERMAIDS. You guys, it all makes sense.

There's a video of some prissy old man reading it on Youtube. But I won't link that. I hate that guy. Instead, I'll post the end of the poem. That's the part with the mermaids.

Excerpt from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot

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.

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