illustration of a woman holding a glass of wine and a man, Prufrock, standing opposite her

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by T. S. Eliot

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Which does the poet imply in the line, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"?

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This line emphasizes the triviality at the heart of Prufrock's life. Try as he might, Prufrock cannot find any real meaning in the social world, a world in which women "come and go, talking of Michelangelo," and in which he feels so singularly awkward and ill at ease. Yet somehow he still needs to infuse his mind-numbing, workaday existence with some kind of significance, no matter how trivial.

Enter coffee spoons. Prufrock cannot measure out his life with notable achievements or successes, for the simple reason that he doesn't have any. But he does have coffee spoons. These humble everyday objects provide him with a sense of certainty and stability in a world of hustle and bustle, a world in which, as we've already seen, Prufrock doesn't feel as if he belongs. Like coffee spoons, Prufrock has become something of an unimportant, everyday object, both to himself and others.

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