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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by T. S. Eliot
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What metaphor is used to describe the yellow fog and smoke? How is this appropriate in the poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”?

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In T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the speaker uses the metaphor of a cat to describe the yellow fog and smoke.

This metaphor is especially appropriate, for the speaker describes the yellow fog as rubbing “its back upon the window-panes” and...

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In T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the speaker uses the metaphor of a cat to describe the yellow fog and smoke.

This metaphor is especially appropriate, for the speaker describes the yellow fog as rubbing “its back upon the window-panes” and rubbing its muzzle along the windows. It licks “into the corners of the evening.” It lingers around pools and allows the soot to fall upon its back. It slips “by the terrace” and leaps up suddenly. Then it curls up around the house and falls asleep.

The metaphor of a cat helps us imagine the movement of the yellow fog and smoke, which might otherwise be unknown to us. We have all seen a cat act like this, but to take these motions and apply them to the fog and smoke is both delightful and wonderfully descriptive.

The speaker cannot seem to quite let go of the metaphor, for it is especially apt. In the next stanza, he returns to it again, showing the yellow smoke sliding “along the street,” slinking smoothly and easily like a cat and “rubbing its back upon the window-panes.” Again, we picture a cat marking its territory. The smoke and fog have claimed their territory as well.

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