Poem on Your Blog Day

It’s Poem On Your Blog Day, to mark the end of National Poetry Month. The original idea was to post about your favourite poem and link to a bio and/or other work by the same poet. I don’t have a favourite poem, and for the rest I’m pressed for time as always so I’ll just point to this post about AE Stallings, my favourite contemporary poet.
But I feel bad not posting any verse at all, so here’s one I’ve been meaning to put up:

The Love-Song of Vice-Chancellor Prufrock; or, Prufrock Among The Students

Not the least of T.S. Eliot’s
contributions to literature is
the opportunity for gratuitious
parody afforded by ‘Prufrock‘.
Senza tema d’infamia…

Let us go, then, you and I,
When the campus is spread out beneath the sky
Like a student stupefied by a timetable;
Let us pass by certain half-deserted rooms
Wherein, one just assumes,
Some course on T.S. Eliot drones on;
Pass by the roses, ornaments and ponds,
The fountains, gardens and the sculptured hedges
(Where, along the edges,
Poorer students have been known to make their homes)—
The grounds this time of year are just exquisite;
Let us go and make our visit.
Through the windows student faces peer,
Desperate for passing-grades and beer.
The greasy smog that drips from eaves
And eats away the drains…
The greasy smog that settles down and leaves
My Beemer stained…
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that oozes from the labs,
Etching black streaks down the sandstone walls,
For all the corpses on the med-school slabs
And all the corpses in the Admin. halls;
Time for Law, and Arts, and time
Especially for Engineering
(A million dollar grant this year,
From MIM and Hastings-Deering);
Time to put on gowns and meet the press,
Then let some junior Dean assume the mess—
(Pause here; observe the humble stance
Of department heads who overspent their grants)—
In a minute there is time
For conclusions and exclusions which my secretary signs.
Through the windows student faces peer,
Desperate for passing-grades and beer.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder whence the funds next year will come;
Time yet to rouse the dragon from its slumbers,
To further raise the numbers
Of full-fee-paying students from overseas—
(They will say: “He doesn’t care about our own!”)
It is impossible to please!
I’d like to do more, Heaven knows,
But how could I let the Staff Club close?
For I have known them all already, known them all,
Known every meeting and the people in it,
I have measured out my life with transcribed Minutes;
I know Departments dying with a quiet moan,
So how can I go on?
And how should I begin?
With wild demands and waving hands,
Like students sitting-in?
Or shall I make requests through all the proper channels?
Approach each Government Department mandarin
With humble mien and careful creases in my flannels?
Do I dare to make a speech?
I shall turn the voice-mail on, and take off for the beach!
I should have been four furry little paws,
Scuttling across the floors of silent refectories.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After all the heads brought in on platters,
After graduations and initiations,
And the gossip, and the post-exam-week chatter?
Would it, after all, have been worth while
To have brought the Student Union to its knees,
Assured each valued colleague of their tenure,
To sit, proud puppet-king, among these
Trophies—and smile as janitors smile?
Is any thing worth while?
I grow old… I grow tired…
How long before the Trustees have me fired?
I have been feathering my own nest all along,
Without regard or pause for right or wrong.
I have heard the students laughing, singing songs;
I suspect what they were laughing at, was me.
We have lingered in our chambers, half-asleep
On pillows made of crumpled formal gowns;
What student’s voice would dare to wake us now?

2 thoughts on “Poem on Your Blog Day

  1. OK you win my prize for best poem of the year so far. I began reading Prufrock to my daughter when she was 3 months old, mostly because I wanted to rememorize the poem. But now I want to make up a version specific to UC Davis – as long as you do not mind me pilfering your idea.

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