Sunday, May 03, 2015

Top ten T. S. Eliot poems

Robert Crawford is the author of Scotland’s Books and the coeditor of The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse. A fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Academy, he is the Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews. The Bard, his biography of Robert Burns, was awarded the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year 2009. Crawford’s six poetry collections include The Tip of My Tongue and Full Volume, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Crawford's new book is Young Eliot: From St. Louis to "The Waste Land".

One entry on Crawford's list of the ten best T. S. Eliot poems:
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

First published in the Chicago magazine Poetry 100 years ago, in the summer of 1915 when its author got married, but written earlier when Eliot was twenty-two and living in Paris and Munich, this is the disconcerting work that opened Eliot’s first book of poems in 1917. Its opening words, “Let us go then, you and I”, set the tone. The first line would be so much more assertive if it began not with “Let us go” but with “Let’s go”. That difference in phrasing tells you almost all you need to know about J. Alfred Prufrock. The name Prufrock came from the poet’s boyhood St Louis and was particularly associated with, ahem, bedding. More than any other poem in the English language, this one marked the arrival of Modernism in literature. Several early readers thought it mad.
Read about another entry on the list.

Read, or listen to, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

--Marshal Zeringue