Preludes

Original Text: 
T. S. Eliot, Prufrock and Other Observations (London: The Egoist, 1917): 24-26. E546 P784 1917 Fisher Rare Book Library.
2With smell of steaks in passageways.
3Six o'clock.
4The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
5And now a gusty shower wraps
6The grimy scraps
7Of withered leaves about your feet
9The showers beat
10On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
11And at the corner of the street
12A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
13And then the lighting of the lamps.
II
14The morning comes to consciousness
15Of faint stale smells of beer
17With all its muddy feet that press
18To early coffee-stands.
19With the other masquerades
20That time resumes,
21One thinks of all the hands
23In a thousand furnished rooms.
III
24You tossed a blanket from the bed,
25You lay upon your back, and waited;
26You dozed, and watched the night revealing
27The thousand sordid images
28Of which your soul was constituted;
29They flickered against the ceiling.
30And when all the world came back
31And the light crept up between the shutters
32And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
33You had such a vision of the street
34As the street hardly understands;
35Sitting along the bed's edge, where
37Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
38In the palms of both soiled hands.
IV
39His soul stretched tight across the skies
40That fade behind a city block,
41Or trampled by insistent feet
42At four and five and six o'clock;
43And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
44And evening newspapers, and eyes
45Assured of certain certainties,
46The conscience of a blackened street
47Impatient to assume the world.
48I am moved by fancies that are curled
49Around these images, and cling:
50The notion of some infinitely gentle
51Infinitely suffering thing.
52Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
53The worlds revolve like ancient women
54Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

Notes

1] Perhaps influenced by Jules Laforgue's "Préludes Autographiques" (Poésies complètes, ed. Pascal Pia [Le Livre de Poche, 1970]: 30), the first poem in his first volume. Back to Line
8] lots: properties without houses built on them. Back to Line
16] sawdust-trampled street: sawdust was used to take up dirt on floors. Back to Line
22] shades: window blinds. Back to Line
36] papers for curling one's hair. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1915
Publication Notes: 
First printed in Blast 2 (July 1915). Donald Gallup, T. S. Eliot: A Bibliography (London: Faber and Faber, 1969): A1, C19.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Rhyme: 
Special Copyright: 

© T.S. Eliot and Faber and Faber Ltd 1974