Saturday, August 7, 2010
That is unacceptable.
In one case, it is because of a crappy high-school teacher. So there are negative associations. In another, it's because of being exposed to a recording of Eliot reading the piece himself; and, I agree, he isn't a good reader, even of his own work. He's rather monotonic and it all comes out sounding kinda the same.
Back at Cornell, I spent some considerable time preparing for a live reading of Prufrock. It's been what... 23 years or so... but I thought, in the cause of helping two people get, maybe, a bit closer to enjoying the work, it might be helpful to have an alternate reading available.
So... you know who you are. If this helps, fantastic. If it doesn't... well, it was fun to revisit the reading.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
[from the "many years ago and I just found this again on my hard drive while backing stuff up" department]
While visiting the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. with wife, stuffed ape and friend Neil, we had much joy viewing the works of John Singer Sargent. One of his large portraits was of an English peer, standing around in hunting regalia (see attached JPG). When Neil checked the title, he saw that it was a picture of â€œLord Ribblesdale.â€ Neil promptly began to channel the spirit of the dead Lord and discovered that as a boy, Little Lord R. had been the subject of merciless derision at the hands of his headmaster. In order to free Ribblesdaleâ€™s spirit from this mortal coil, we (me and Neil) determined that we must â€œdiscoverâ€ all of the cruel taunts heaped upon the boy. Neil and I managed to scour the ghostly ether for the first 20 below, and the rest were later added to via email from fellow spiritualists the world over.
* * * * *
At last! The spirit of Lord Ribblesdale has been freed. The help of many kind folks has helped to ease the troubled shade of this 19th century British aristocrat. Here are the dismal pronouncements of Lord R's headmaster; the channeling of which has brought about a pleasing conclusion to Our Friend's time as an ectoplasmic haunt:
The original 20:
1. That's not for you, Ribblesdale!
2. Stop picking at it, Ribblesdale. You'll only make it worse.
3. Your father can't protect you here, Ribblesdale!
4. Ribblesdale! Front and center!
5. I don't care how much it hurts, Ribblesdale: stand up straight!
6. May we continue, Ribblesdale? Or aren't you quite finished?
7. I know you're aching for the scrum, Ribblesdale, but there'll be no rugby until you've scraped the gromulets clean!
8. Sleeping again, Ribblesdale? Well, it's the Beltine for you!
9. Hawthorne's already confessed, Ribblesdale.
10. You're a sorry excuse for a wee man, Ribblesdale.
11. What would the Queen say, Ribblesdale, if she could see you thus?
12. No more bread pudding for Ribblesdale. It's braken for him all week.
13. Back in the steeple, Ribblesdale, until you've done it right!
14. Don't change the subject, Ribblesdale. We were discussing your doom.
15. Well, well, well. Ribblesdale's human after all.
16. Class! Please observe Ribblesdale's effort. It should serve as a warning to us all.
17. Ten means ten, Ribblesdale! Not nine and a bit of skin!
18. Why should I concern myself with your survival, Ribblesdale?
19. No excuses, Ribblesdale! Find that boar!
20. It's talk like that which leads to plague, Ribblesdale.
21. And now for the final chunk, Ribblesdale:
22. It's the THINKING CHAIR for you, Ribblesdale.
23. Ribblesdale, you mangy excuse for a human.
24. Ribblesdale, Mr. Peanut needs a word with you.
25. You call those hands clean, Ribblesdale? More pumice!
26. Finish that plate of tripe, Ribblesdale. It's all you've got left.
27. Ribblesdale, what about the children???...They're so confused.
28. You smell of Stilton, Ribblesdale. You may as well be dead.
29. Don't deny me, Ribblesdale -- our fate binds us to this course!
30. Forgiveness, Ribblesdale? The irony makes me choke!
31. Eternity in hell is a tea interval compared to your company, Ribblesdale!
32. You've over-cleaned again, Ribblesdale. Return the dust to the firedogs.
33. Look, everyone! Ribblesdale has discovered his girlish charm!
34. This job calls for a wee, nancy little man, Ribblesdale. You're not up to it, yet.
35. Keep wheezing, Ribblesdale. I'm sure you'll get your second wind someday.
36. Find the artifact, Ribblesdale, and your medication will be returned to you.
37. I'd pitty you, Ribblesdale, but I don't have the energy.
38. There'll be the duece to pay, Ribblesdale, if it makes the papers !
39. It will be the salt mines for you, Ribblesdale!
40. Hmmm, Ribblesdale and Hawthorne . . . Hawthorne and Ribblesdale . . .
41. That's what they call it in the Army, Ribblesdale!
42. Sing all you want, Ribblesdale, it won't get you out of the dance!
43. Stop that bleeding, Ribblesdale!
44. And just who do think will believe THAT, Ribblesdale?
45. Whatever makes you think that you have to have two, Ribblesdale?
46. Your Mum doesn't work here, Ribblesdale. Man the pumps yourself.
47. Oh, we'll surely run that up the flagpole, Ribblesdale.
48. This time you've really split your knickers, Ribblesdale.
49. Anybody'd think that you were the first student who ever fell all the way to the bottom, Ribblesdale.
50. Is your name Ribblesdale or Clydesdale, young man?
51. You really try an old Headmaster's patience, Ribblesdale. Put down those crutches and report to the scullery this minute!
52. So the stove exploded while you were cleaning it, Ribblesdale? Hair is not essential to life!
53. Last night's Brusell sprouts is no excuse, Ribblesdale. We all know you did it.
54. Cease the carping, Ribblesdale? You've really dashed it this time!
55. Buck up Ribblesdale! Only fifty pounds left to peel.
56. Ribblesdale! That's only America's second favorite white meat!
57. Stop that at once, Ribblesdale, or I shall bring out the cat again.
58. Cheese was never intended for such uses, Ribblesdale.
59. Cease your sniffling and get back in the barrel, Ribblesdale.
60. Not now Ribblesdale. Wait until the cattle are finished.
61. You must write home and inform your mother how fortunate you were to have fallen on your head, Ribblesdale
62. Ten centuries of Ribblesdales, ending in you. What a sorry finish.
63. You give aristocracy a bad name, Ribblesdale
64. You give inbreeding a bad name, Ribblesdale
65. Thank you, Ribblesdale, for being kind enough to demonstrate for us yet another noble use for the human nose
66. Ribblesdale! Biscuits for you there shall be none!