The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

a. how does this "love song" differ from traditional love poetry? b. how is the title of the poem ironic?

the love song of j. alfred prufrock

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The title of the poem is Eliot's first hint that this is not a traditional love poem at all. "J. Alfred Prufrock" is a farcical name, and Eliot wanted the subliminal connotation of a "prude" in a "frock." (The original title was "Prufrock Among the Women.") This emasculation contributes to a number of themes Eliot will explore revolving around paralysis and heroism, but the name also has personal meaning for Eliot. He wrote the poem in 1909 while a graduate student at Harvard (though he revised it over the next few years, eventually publishing it in 1915 and in book form in 1917), and at the time he signed his name as "T. Stearns Eliot." This isn't a poem about love or than the lamentings of a lonely old man who was too afraid to act on love in his younger days.