The Analytic Hour of J. Alfred Prufrock

PRUFROCK (settling a pillow by his head): Then how should I begin to spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

ANALYST is silent.

PRUFROCK: Shall I say, “I have gone at dusk through narrow streets. And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows”?

ANALYST: Say whatever comes to mind.

PRUFROCK: Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

ANALYST: You seem conflicted.

PRUFROCK (turning toward the window): That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all.

ANALYST: No? Can you say some more?

PRUFROCK: It is impossible to say just what I mean!

ANALYST is silent.

PRUFROCK: I know the voices dying with a dying fall.

ANALYST (taking notes): Voices?

PRUFROCK: They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”

ANALYST: Anything else?

PRUFROCK: They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”

ANALYST: So, these are critical voices.

PRUFROCK: That is not it at all. That is now what I meant at all.

ANALYST is silent.

PRUFROCK: I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.


PRUFROCK: I do not think that they will sing to me.

ANALYST is silent.

PRUFROCK: I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

ANALYST: Aren’t you being a bit hard on yourself?

PRUFROCK: A tedious argument of insidious intent! And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker.

ANALYST: The “eternal Footman”?

PRUFROCK: Oh, do not ask “What is it?”!

ANALYST: This is what we call “resistance.”

Both PRUFROCK and ANALYST are silent.

PRUFROCK: I was afraid.

ANALYST (setting aside notes): I’m sorry. Our time is up.

A Letter and a Photograph

That night, L couldn’t fall asleep. The portrait he saw hanging in Hye-gyŏng’s room lingered before his eyes.