The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
How we cite our quotes:
And I have known the eyes already, known them all –
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? (lines 55-60)
We don’t know whose "eyes" he means, but it’s likely they belong to one or several of the women he has loved. They intimidate him and make him feel like he is being examined like a scientist examines an insect specimen. He doesn’t want to have to tell the truth about himself ("my days and ways") to anyone, even someone he thinks he loves.
And I have known the arms already, known them all –
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress? (lines 62-66)
Prufrock sounds really jaded, like a kid who has been on an amusement ride too many times. He’s seen so many arms it makes his head spin. But wait! Look at that arm over there, in the lamplight. That’s a mighty nice arm, "downed with light brown hair." And the "perfume" is making him ramble on and on. Here for about two seconds, he actually sounds like a man who might be in love, or at least lust. At this point, we would take lust over nothing.
I do not think that they will sing to me. (line 125)
Prufrock has already realized that his best days over, but now he finally comes to terms with the fact that no one will love him. And it’s all his own fault for not doing anything about it. He sees the beautiful mermaids singing in the water, but he has no confidence that they would even turn his way. Still, he doesn’t drop his guard and sounds pretty matter-of-fact about his total undesirability.