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On the surface, ?The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock? is about an older man who is distressed by his own inability to tell a woman of his desire for her. He tries to relay his feelings to her but comes up with all kinds of excuses not to, and ultimately does not. The speakers? real problem is not that he is just too timid to confess his love for this particular woman, it is that he has a somewhat unproductive, bleak life and has a lack of willpower and boldness to change that life.
The poem starts out describing the dreary streets with cheap hotels and restaurants where the speaker lives. He is on his way to a place where women, including the one he adores, are getting together to talk and have some tea. They are talking about people with great creative minds, like Michelangelo and unlike Prufrock. This is the first of many excuses he gives in the poem. Next, he talks about how there is so much time. There is time for ?indecisions? and ?revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea.? Here he is trying to convince himself that there is plenty of time to decide what he is going to say before he makes a toast in her honor.
Prufrocks next thoughts tell of his old age and his lack of will to say what is on his mind. He mentions his bald spot in his hair and his thin arms and legs. This suggests that he knows he is growing old, and therefore contradicts what he had mentioned earlier in the poem about having plenty of time. Throughout the poem he is indecisive and somewhat aloof from the self-involved group of women. One part of him would like to startle them out of their frustratingly polite conversations and express his love for her, but to accomplish this he would have to risk disturbing their ?universe? and being rejected. He also mentions ?sprawling on a pin?, as though he pictures himself being pinned in place and viciously analyzed like that of an insect being literally pinned in place. The latter part of the poem captures his sense of overwhelming lack of willpower for failing to act daringly, not only at that tea party, but throughout his life.
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