The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
by T.S. Eliot
Prufrock spends most of the poem cooped up in rooms, eating, drinking, and overhearing other people’s conversations. He also fantasizes a lot about entering rooms – perhaps bedrooms – where the woman he loves can be found. Always the pessimist, he images a woman leaning on a pillow who rejects him. At the end of the poem, he just might have found the perfect room for him: at the bottom of the ocean.
- Lines 13-14, 35-36: These lines are one of the most famous refrains in a poem with many of ‘em. These verses are repeated in exactly the same form twice in the poem.
- Lines 38-39: We know that Prufrock is inside of a house – and probably standing outside a room – when he tries to decide whether to go in. He chickens out, though, and he’s back downstairs.
- Lines 52-54: The "dying fall" of voices from another room is an allusion to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Count Orsino, one of the lovers in that play, refers to the "dying fall" of music that reminds him of his love. Therefore, it is ironic, when the voices Prufrock hears are covered up by "music from a farther room."
- Lines 75-79: The afternoon/evening is personified as a person who is sleeping alongside Prufrock and his fictional listener in a room after "tea and cakes and ices."
- Lines 107-110: The woman in Prufrock’s imagined worst-case scenario must be in a room of some kind, probably a bedroom or some other comfortable place. She lays on a pillow and turns to the window.
- Line 129: "Chambers" is a word that can refer to any small space – like the "chambers" of the heart muscle – or it can refer specifically to a bedroom.