A Poem

So many thoughts have been racing through my brain since this all started, it’s hard to know how to put them all down. But just as there seems to be a waterfall of thoughts rushing too fast through my mind I am also suddenly so much more attuned to the things around me – the sounds, especially. Recently I was in the car, listening to a programme on Radio 4 about TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, with a beautiful reading of the poem by Jeremy Irons. Of course, like most A level English students, I was once obsessed with this poem and pored over it trying to find a meaning that no one else had discovered. My friends and I noted ruefully that our lives were also ‘measured out with coffee spoons’, imagining ourselves already so cynical, so world-weary and battle-hardened that life could bring us no surprises. This poem has stayed with me throughout my life, and like a song you love it comes into my mind unbidden from time to time. I wanted to share a reading by TS Eliot himself, I’ve always found it interesting that his reading is emphatically not the way I hear the poem when I read it to myself – so am I reading it wrong? Or are there multiple ways of reading a poem that are totally out of the poet’s control – ie does the poem have a life of its own? I’d like to think so.

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