I was at my lovely women's artist collective two nights ago giving myself permission to revive an interest in poetry. Why would I need to give myself permission? Could that reek anymore of insecurity? I think that having all of this laid-off time on my hands has opened up doors to some buried and beloved synapses. They're sluggish and sleepy still, but I'm trying to shine some light and give them space to come alive again. They never went anywhere, after all; but they need a tune up.
Strangely, not one or two, but rather three [of seven] of us at the group had read aloud to ourselves, or had thought of T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in the last week. There's a part of me that wants to sound more in touch with the modern world of poetry than to simply recall The Love Song which is taught in every high school sophomore English class. But what I've dusted off is an aching 18-year-old girl who thinks these are still some of the most beautiful words ever strewn together. Through the years I've gone back to Prufrock, and to The Waste Land in darker days (um, Burial of the Dead, anyone?). But I always go back.
There are a few lines that have moved themselves so deeply into our culture that films have been named for them (I've Heard the Mermaids Singing), and others that have come to ubiquitously mark the unavoidable movement from one generation to the next (I've measured my life in coffee spoons, or I grow old, I grow old, I will wear my trowsers rolled). And there are other lines where when I reread them I feel like I've caught an old friend: I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, and I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid.
The last line above is something I referenced in my old Poetess days, so I've linked it to the Xeroxed, with a capital X, bookjacket of my Made at Kinko's chapbook. Hell, maybe some day I'll post some of those poems, but for today, let's read Prufrock.