Monday, November 15, 2010

And For a Hundred Visions and Revisions

I count time now between Thursdays, the seven day stretch a one-Mississippi bringing me a week closer to having this baby. This Thursday will be 11; the days before and after do not count. My life measured out in what-to-eat-next. (Tonight I served scrambled eggs and muffins with a side of pickles and then felt sad when nobody wanted to eat but me.) I swing back and forth between ravenously hungry, disgustingly full, nauseated at both, then so tired I no longer care about any of it. There is something very real about the fetal position.
. . . . .
I am happy, I am happy, please don't mistake this for anything but the hormonal ramblings of a girl who used to read poetry aloud in bed simply for the sound of the words. Which is why I give you this, one of my faves which I had forgotten about until I ran across this photo here. (Pinky swear that next time I post I will have stopped listening to The Cure.)
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
T.S. Eliot

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised 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 …
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 yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
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?
And how should I presume?
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?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
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.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
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.

7 comments:

A Perfect Gray said...

also one of my faves.

thanks.

Misplaced Country Girl said...

I f'ng love that poem! It gives me palpitations. It's one of my favorite things that I learned in college and hope to always carry with me.

Judy said...

One of my all-time favorite poems and poets.....once I saw the Hopper "Nighthawkes" painting, I always pictured the two together. Thanks for posting the entire poem, I'm going to print it and read it tonight again and again because it's been awhile. I'm no longer that girl who lies in bed at night reading poetry anymore either....been a long time...but tonight I'll pretend.
And I'm counting down weeks with you, My Sweet! Here's to that fast approaching 2nd trimester when one magically feels energetic and wonderful. This too shall pass, I promise. A BABY...another spectacular, precious, unique Jenkins/Murdock magical gene mix growing inside you, MY OWN BABY! I too am counting weeks because I actually can feel your pregnancy fatigue and yuckiness. You were once connected to me...living in me...and while that particular bond is years gone by and no longer physical, I will always feel you as I did then and I'm sure ready for us to feel better! I get goosebumps and heart pitter-patters every time I think of this little new person getting ready to come out and live with us and play with us....to astound and delight us as Miss Z does. How could anyone ever verbalize the miracle that is conception, gestation, birth and life. You are the most special person on the face of the Earth right now!
Love You To The Moon And Back...and MORE!
Mom

Sarahviz said...

You're giving me flashbacks to my first trimesters of pregnancy--eating something b/c it sounded sooooo good and then instantly feeling nauseated thinking about the food I just ate.
Blech. My sympathies!

Jenn said...

In college, I fell in love with Prufrock. I would name my firstborn Prufrock if I didn't think it would lead to an amount of therapy that I most likely will be unable to afford. Still, this poem has my favorite line ever:
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

shannon said...

Aloud is the very best way to read it.

Anonymous said...

I, too, love this poem. I love how it sounds being read aloud, so I did just that. "I have heard the mermaids singing each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me...
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."
It makes me miss being younger and it feeling worthwhile to memorize a poem just because.