Marlowe’s Favorite Poem

A favorite poem is like that first great kiss: you never forget it. The mere mention of it makes your face blush and your heart beat a little faster.

I first read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” when I was just a junior in High School. I immediately fell in love, hard. Its gauzy spell never shook loose, never left me. To this day, I squeal when I find fragments of the poem reused, whether wrapped in pop culture or an academic treatise.


You see, unlike the very heady and often cryptic “Waste Land” (T.S. Eliot‘s most famous poem), “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” beckons to you from the first stanza. The language teases you, takes you for a walk, and leaves you breathless.

Its modern sensibility, its bleakness, its layered definition of love remain fresh despite the staleness of the title character. We may now measure our days with text messages instead of coffee spoons, but Prufrock’s cautionary tale about the perils of an ordinary adulthood nonetheless resonate. The bitter angst still bites. The wistful hope still lingers. And the unmatched desire remains almost inaudible.

Read It

Check out the full poem at

Hear It

Hear T.S. Eliot read his poem:

What’s your favorite poem?

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Date: Wednesday, 18. August 2010 20:15
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  1. 1

    Two poems that immediately come to mind for me are Eliot’s “Burnt Norton” (especially the first stanza, which I love to read aloud) and Frost’s “Fire and Ice”.

    Tolkien’s unfinished poem “The Lay of Leithian” also have very deep meaning to me, which perhaps doesn’t count since it’s subject matter is set in a fictional world (though that world was all too real for JRRT.)

  2. 2

    Great choices! I think “The Lay of Leithian” counts. All poetry is set in a fictional or imagined world, even when the poem is based on actual events.