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inspired by my favorite poem

July 24, 2010

My sins during the weeks of not-blogging and not-writing include not-reading others’ posts and not-Big-Tent-Poetry-socializing. Forgive me. This weekend, I am jumping back in.

This week’s prompt is to write a poem inspired by your favorite poem. My favorite poem is “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot.

There is so much I like about that poem. One thing I like is that each line carries me somewhere. And as much as it’s a poem about mortality and doubts and accountings, there’s also incredible longing and moments of sentimentality. I have been working with it for nearly a year as part of a new manuscript. (Don’t get excited. I have a few in progress; it seems to be where they stay.)

Today, I am playing with the phrase “perfume from a dress” (“Is it perfume from a dress that makes me so digress?”). It’s one of the places in the poem where Prufrock reminisces about something sweet, or at least wanders away from the fear that provides the movement in the poem.

My piece, which has nothing to do with Prufrock except that it borrows words from Eliot for its title and which is inspired by driving in the evening with the windows down past fields of sweet corn out here in farm country, is here:



Go here to see other poets’ responses to the prompt!

  1. July 24, 2010 12:49 pm

    much more hopeful than J. Alfred, summer rain & thighs, what could be better?

    • July 26, 2010 3:37 pm

      thanks, dan. “perfume from a dress” is a warm-spot in prufrock. i concentrated on that.

  2. systematicweasel permalink
    July 24, 2010 1:49 pm

    Excellent post! Great response to the prompt! It’s fun to read what others enjoy reading and what inspires them most. It’s something not often done I think. Wonderful work!


    • July 26, 2010 3:38 pm

      thanks, weasel. i also love hearing how other people are inspired.

  3. July 24, 2010 3:29 pm

    I like this….and HAPPPEEEEEEEEE BIRTHDAY Carolee

  4. July 24, 2010 5:33 pm

    My goodness Carolee that is absolutely beautiful
    every single word!

  5. July 24, 2010 5:56 pm

    Your poem takes me through the corn fields . The images awake each sense–and then the last two lines are absolutely beautiful and earned.

    • July 26, 2010 3:39 pm

      linda, you’re right. i think all the senses are in there. wish i could say i did it on purpose. eep!

  6. July 24, 2010 7:33 pm

    Great job, Carolee. I can almost smell the corn fields. I was also going to try to tackle “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, but felt a bit daunted. 🙂 I like your approach of sticking to one phrase and examining it.

    • July 26, 2010 3:40 pm

      it can be daunting to think about making such things our own. the trick is leaps, i think. not to ride alongside but to use it to jump into something else. of course, i don’t really know. it’s just what worked for me this time.

  7. July 24, 2010 7:38 pm

    I love “one thousand fields lost/ in each green satin fold”

  8. July 24, 2010 9:34 pm

    Personally, I think Prufrock gets a bit too long, sorry. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. You, on the other hand, with an abundance of images that tickle and please the senses, get to the heart of the matter much more swiftly and give a deep sense of satisfaction throughout and when you get there. Wonderful stuff,


    • July 26, 2010 3:42 pm

      there’s not one part of prufrock i could do without. but i don’t think you’re alone in thinking that.

      if i get to the heart of the matter swiftly, it’s b/c i chose a fraction of the topics he considers. 🙂

      i’m glad it seems satisfying!

  9. July 24, 2010 10:10 pm

    Wow. Back with a bang! This is superb.

  10. July 25, 2010 3:47 am

    Superb poem. My favourite of yours!

  11. July 25, 2010 5:05 am

    Oh, Carolee, I really love this poem. The pictures in my head after reading it will warm the rest of my day

  12. tillybud permalink
    July 25, 2010 7:56 am

    ‘one thousand daisy mornings’ – gorgeous!

    • July 26, 2010 3:44 pm

      tillybud: thanks for picking out that line … it’s one i wasn’t sure about, but i’m pleased it worked for you.

  13. July 25, 2010 10:14 am

    The setting sun really does sometimes seem alive.

  14. July 25, 2010 11:40 am

    Tender and lovely, Carolee. Just lovely.

  15. Irene permalink
    July 25, 2010 5:23 pm

    Prufrock led you to corn fields and yearnings. The digressions are lovely.

  16. July 26, 2010 2:35 am

    Beautiful poem and what images !

  17. July 28, 2010 6:34 pm

    Very nice. Smells can trigger so many images and I love the way this poem stays true to that.

    (Prufrock is one of my favorites as well.)

  18. July 29, 2010 3:37 am

    Love the complex density in this. Just like a sun, like an ear of corn. Re-reading brings lots of different things out.

    Love the sun as a seed.

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