This is one of my T.S. Eliot pages.
While doing some research on Guido Guinizelli, the 13th century poet, I came across a possible connection between a work of his Al Cor Gentil ("In the Gentle Heart") and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I'm not sure if connection has ever been noted before in the Eliot literature or if it is even important (it certainly is not obvious.) I'm pointing it out in case this information may be useful to anyone.
In Inventions of the March Hare we see that in the draft of the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock the epigraph was:
'sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor'.The epigraph is from Dante's Purgatorio, Canto 26. For context I present this translation to English that I have:
Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina.
'I am Arnold, who weeps and goes singing. I see in thought all the past folly. And I see with joy the day for which I hope, before me. And so I pray you, by that Virtue which leads you to the topmost stair--be mindful in due time of my pain'. Then dived he back into that fire which refines them.In Canto 26 Arnault Daniel was pointed out to Dante by Guido Guinizelli, another troubador poet. As I was researching Guinizelli on the web I came across his poem Al Cor Gentil ("In the Gentle Heart") at URL http://www.auburn.edu/~bertocr/Al.html (the poem is presented in Italian and English translation.) What really stood out for me were the lines (in the sixth stanza):
Donna, Deo mi dir=E0, "Che presomisti?,"
s=EFando l'alma mia a Lui davanti,
Lady, God will say to me, "How could you presume?,"
when my soul stands before Him,
This is a real stretch going from "Che presomisti?" to "Shall I presume?" but I've seen longer stretches and more incredible Eliot allusions published.
James Loucks queried in response (and suggesting a check of Schuchard's edition of Eliot's Clark/Turnbull lectures):
"Can you establish that [Eliot] knew of Guinizelli in 1911? Perhaps he came across [Guinizelli] in an annotated Dante, or in a book about Dante's circle."
Mark Brown then wrote supplying the following information:
The Spirit of Romance appeared in 1910. Pound quotes portions of Rossetti's translation of Al Cor Gentil (see New Directions ed., pp. 104-5), but not the sixth stanza. In Rossetti's version, the lines in question read as follows:"My lady, God shall ask, 'What dared'st thou?'
(When my soul stands with all her acts review'd). . . ."
Then, because of the use of "dare" in Prufrock I-xxx
Even the Rossetti version of Al Cor Gentil has echos in Prufrock.
I have not done any further digging-xxx in regards to this issue. xxx References:
T.S. Eliot. 1888=961965 Eliot, T. S. 1917. Prufrock and Other Observations The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse A persona che mai tornasse al mondo, Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero, Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo. LET us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherised upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats 5 Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question... 10 Oh, do not ask, "What is it?" Let us go and make our visit. In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, 15 The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 20 And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; 25 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; 30 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. In the room the women come and go 35 Talking of Michelangelo. 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=97 40 [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=97 [They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!"] Do I dare 45 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:=97 Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 50 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? And I have known the eyes already, known them all=97 55 The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 60 And how should I presume? And I have known the arms already, known them all=97 Arms that are braceleted and white and bare [But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!] It is perfume from a dress 65 That makes me so digress? Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl. And should I then presume? And how should I begin? . . . . . Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets 70 And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?... I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. . . . . . And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 75 Smoothed by long fingers, Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers, Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 80 But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet=97and here's no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 85 And in short, I was afraid. And would it have been worth it, after all, After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, Would it have been worth while, 90 To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it toward some overwhelming question, To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"=97 95 If one, settling a pillow by her head, Should say: "That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all." And would it have been worth it, after all, Would it have been worth while, 100 After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor=97 And this, and so much more?=97 It is impossible to say just what I mean! But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: 105 Would it have been worth while If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, And turning toward the window, should say: "That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all." 110 . . . . . No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, 115 Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous=97 Almost, at times, the Fool. I grow old ... I grow old... 120 I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me. 125 I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black. We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown 130 Till human voices wake us, and we drown.