Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Just Crazy Enough To Be True...

Have you ever gotten that look? You know, the one where someone stares trying to determine if you're a complete lunatic or a total genius? I get that quite a bit, although I am sure they lean more towards the lunatic theory...

In one of my recent classes, I was assigned to read T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." When we read these poems, we are to savor the words and share our experience in a response. Believe it or not, I totally saw the narrator as Jack the Ripper.

Macabre? Maybe. But it certainly made the poem interesting. The words clearly materialized into visions of London's dark foggy streets dimly illuminated from yellow gas lights. Prufrock's evasive conversation set my nerves on edge right from the beginning as he says, "Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?' Let us go and make our visit."

My mind quickly spun parallels between Prufrock and Saucy Jacky. For example, Eliot opens the poem with a quote from Dante's Inferno. For those unfamiliar, this is Dante's interpretation of Hell. In my mind, this is not insignificant. The Ripper's letter to Scotland Yard containing a woman's kidney is known as the "From Hell" letter.

Coincidentally, T.S. Eliot was born in 1888, the year of the first Jack the Ripper murder. Throughout the poem Prufrock shares his experiences with ladies of the evening and, well, we all know what the Ripper did to such ladies. Speaking of the ladies, Eliot mentions Prince Hamlet in his work - perhaps an homage to Shakespeare? One of the Ripper's victims, Carrie Brown, was nicknamed Shakespeare because she was always reciting his sonnets.

I have never written a poem based so blatantly upon another author's work as I did in J. Alfred Prufrock Has No Love SongI can't leave it alone; T.S. Eliot's writing is so mysterious and so creepy he seems to have more afoot than just Magical Mister Mistoffolees.

Suffice it to say, my professor gave me the look. The good news is perhaps he is leaning towards the genius end of the spectrum. He recommended I do my thesis on these conclusions drawn in my world. So how about you, Boss? What do you think?

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