From T.S. Eliot’s The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized 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. . . 10
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 bit about riding seaward comes at the end. This is the poem that made his name and was considered 'the' masterpiece of the modernist movement.
I LOVE the description of the evening being spread out like a patient etherized....
Too bad his views on humanity were so enormously flawed.
I like the visuals in Eliot - his ability to give colour and texture - I can 'see' this poem vividly.
I greatly admire Harold Bloom who, although acknowledging Eliot's genius, doesn't think much of him. A major reason for this is that Elliot was anti-semitic.
Anthony Julius created quite an uproar by writing a book on Eliot's anti-semitism in 1995: TS Eliot, Anti-semitism and Literary Form.
Quote from an article Antony Julius wrote for the Guardian, Saturday, June 7, 2003:
"This does not mean that I read Eliot's poems as anti-semitic statements by their author. I do not read them and then conclude: this is what Eliot thought. Instead, I read them as being in themselves anti-semitic. I am referring here, of course, only to the five poems that I identify in the book as anti-semitic, not the whole of Eliot's poetic output. These are the poems: "Burbank," "Gerontion," "Sweeney Among the Nightingales," "A Cooking Egg," and the posthumously published "Dirge". I regard Eliot's purpose in writing them to be the exploitation of anti-semitic discourse, a view of them consistent with their limited number, and with the comprehensiveness of their address of anti-semitic preoccupations. Eliot's offence lies in his willingness to give offence, in his deployment of anti-semitic language. Eliot's anti-semitic poetry is very deft."