Comment on the poetic technique used in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This famous poem is presented as a dramatic monologue, which is a poem in which a character speaks directly to one or more listeners. It is important to be aware of the role that rhyme plays in constructing this poem. Although the poem is written in free verse with irregular line lengths, there is an overall coherence of rhyme which aids the structure.

Many of the lines rhyme, although not all, and certain patterns of rhyme that are present in the poem help to create a central structure. The first stanza for example has a rhyme scheme of A, A, B, D, D, D, D, E, E, F, G, G. The music and rhythm of the poem is thus greatly aided by the loose use of rhyme to create structure. In addition, it is important to note how rhyme is used not just to repeat sounds but also to repeat ideas. The most obvious example of this comes in the third stanza, when "time" is repeated to suggest the way that various ideas and themes appear and re-appear throughout the poem:

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 life 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 toast and tea.

Here the repetition of the word time is used to establish how indecisive J. Alfred Prufrock is, and how he "murders and creates" different selves and ideas in his endless ruminations on how he is regarded and viewed by others and how he can create a good impression. Thus it is that there is always time for a "hundred indecisions" and "visions and revisions" for a man who lives a life defered that is "measured out... with coffee spoons."

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