Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?
“I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
T.S. Eliot (1888–1965). Prufrock and Other Observations. 1920.
When I was a freshman in high school, my dad got a job that moved my family from Plano, Texas, to Tustin, California. The move prompted a reevaluation of my academic path, and somehow, I was moved to all advanced and AP classes. My English teachers were phenomenal. They all collectively instilled a love of literature and poetry that will never ever go away. My one teacher, Mrs. Sleeper, used to read poems aloud, which made for an even more dramatic impact on my soul. I remember her reading “Hap” by Thomas Hardy, and it is yet my favorite poem today. I do believe she read Prufrock as well, because the whole poem sticks to me. I will find myself on random nights, opening up the poem, and reading it aloud in the dark silence of the night. Who doesn’t identify with the resounding loneliness of a man past his prime searching for meaning and love? We have seen it all already, seen it all. But, the line about the ragged claws…that is the line that makes you hold your breath…because at some point, we’ve all felt like this…totally meaningless, and totally alone. Or at least I have in the solitude of a lonely evening.
I’m not supposed to feel that way, I know. My friend, MM, says it is unbecoming to show such weakness, but it is part of my fabric…the ocean, the isolation, and the scuttling of restless claws…such poetry will always be a part of me and I will always be a part of the poem.
What’s your favorite line?