Category Archives: My Writing

Professor Prufrock

Let us go to the lecture hall
Where the board is spread against the wall
Like an upturned, felt-denuded pool table.
I shall walk up half-deserted aisles,
‘Midst muttering denials
Of papers done in all-night coffee binges
With marks and stains around their tattered fringes.

In the pond the ducks swim to and fro,
Quacking of Michelangelo.

There will be time, there will be time,
To prepare some notes to quote to faces in their seats.
There will be time to quibble and digress,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a paper on your desk.
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 break at three.

In the pond the ducks swim to and fro,
Quacking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do you care?”
Time to lecture to the air.

For I have know the eyes already,
Known them all—
The eyes that fix you as you hypothesize,
And when you have hypothesized ten angels on a pin,
And have them pinned and wriggling on that head,
Then why do they begin,
To ask how long the midterm is, and why
Is it so soon?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow halls
And watched the sorrow rising from
The lonely adjuncts, scrawling at their desks? . . .

I should have been a don at Trinity,
Scuttling across the floors of Bodleian.

And can it have been worth it, after all,
Can it have been worth while?
After the bachelor’s and the master’s and the doctorate,
After the papers and the book, after the tenure that I struggled for—
And this, and so much more?
Can it be possible to make my point more plain?
Oh, to have a magic hammer drive the thoughts into their brains:
Can it have been worth while
If one, stifling a yawn and gazing round the hall,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“I don’t see it at all,
I don’t see what you mean at all.”

No! I am not Socrates, nor was meant to be;
Am an associate prof, one that will do
To chair a committee, teach a class or two,
Advise the dean—he is, no doubt, a fool.
I grow dull. . . I grow dull. . .
My class is scarcely one-half full.

Shall I take sabbatical? Do I dare to stay away?
I shall vote for Socialists, and shelter all my pay.
I have heard the students speaking, each to each.

I do not think that they will speak to me.

We have lingered in the chambers of the school
By hiding in the library ‘til four
When we must give a lecture, and we bore.

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