Sunday, March 22, 2009

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet

My Sunday plans have not worked out, in lieu of playing in sun, I have actually decided to work on my long-neglected short stories in the darkness of my windowless living room. In case this seems sad, please know that I prefer to write with minimal light.

So I have been writing for a couple hours now. And as I write and mostly rewrite, I'll often have the sensation of another writer's words pervading my thoughts. As I attempt to string together some configuration of the right words to evoke a particular sentiment, I always think back to other writers who have expressed that sentiment better than I ever could.

Strangely enough, as I attempt write a story about a laid off Wall Street type, the words of a 1919 T.S. Elliot poem keep stirring in my head. I read this poem in high school, and it just stuck. The poem is rather long, and this is a small excerpt, but it had a tendency to linger in my head.

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.

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?

- T. S. Eliot: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1919)


  1. That is one of my favorites, J. Alfred Prufrock.

    I'm like you, I have my study in the basement, no natural light to speak of, and it seems to suit me.

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