In addition to reading (over and over) T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, I have taken the advice that poetry needs to be heard. Since I have yet to read the poem out loud to myself, YouTube readings have been the next best thing. I know that sounds weird, but YouTube is used daily in my life as a DJ who actually plays my requests or for nursery rhyme videos to keep little people happy. I didn’t watch the videos, I put on my earbuds and tried really hard to listen.
Let’s count down my top 5 videos!
5. Anthony Hopkins – Not a trace of Hannibal Lector, but it feels like Sir Anthony is in a hurry and not really into this gig. He speaks so quickly, I can’t focus on the words because they go by in a blur. Then suddenly he slows down and it’s too late — I’m lost.
4. Pascale Smith – Okay, I know this isn’t a reading and I’m not even sure the whole poem is there, but I thought this was kinda cool. Prufrock is a little grim and gloomy, and Pascale’s singing makes it sweet and pretty.
3. T.S. Eliot – Sorry Mr. Eliot, I know you wrote this masterpiece, but I find your voice a little creepy. As if you are the old man down the street who always yelled at us kids for causing trouble. Or maybe that was an episode of Scooby Doo.
2. Alec Guiness – Ooh, this was almost number one for me. I liked the pace and tone Sir Alec uses to recite the poem because I can actually keep up. And yes, it’s almost as if the one and only Obi Wan Kenobi is trying to pass onto me some incredible wisdom.
Smooth pace and tone – check!
Passion and feeling, yet keeping it light – check!
Accent – check!
Kept me engaged with the poem – check!
Who is Dean Schambach? I wondered and asked the oracle, coming across another curious blogger who tracked him down in Woodstock, New York. He is a poet and actor, and friends with Bob Dylan! Somehow Mr. Schambach made Prufrock stand out for me. He brought out the drama of the poem, but would also add a humourous smile now and then. As if he knew that T.S. Eliot knew that you just have to laugh a little even when things look a little hopeless.
Do I understand the poem? Do I understand what T.S. Eliot was trying to convey? I really don’t know. It’s all murky and confusing. I think I have let my intimidation of poetry get in the way. I enjoyed Prufrock, but I’m still processing it in my head.
That last sentence alone probably suggests I don’t get it. Isn’t poetry supposed to embraced with your heart?