Friday, January 27, 2012

Do you take risks or play it safe?

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock by T.S. Eliot is a poem I fell in love with at school. We did not actually study Elliot but his poems were in Soundings, a school book many people my age (in Ireland) will remember. I still have two copies in my possession, one is mine and the other is my sisters. While the English teacher extolled the virtues of Yeats and Kinsella I lost myself in the poetry of the American.
I find it difficult to pick my favourite bit of the poem but do not want to just put the whole lot here. I suppose the first lines I love just purely for the sound of them. The way they ease off the tongue in a fluid, lapping manner.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;


Whenever I say to Beth "Let's go" I end up saying this whole quote. She will probably think I'm a bit mad in later years. Although, my mother used to say "Let's go with the Glen Abbey show" when we were younger and I just thought it was funny. I still do not know where that came from!

As I got older different parts of the poem struck me. As I had never studied the poem I did not stop to think what it was about. I just loved it for the language and the way it was unlike the poems I had read to that point. It was like the ramblings inside someones head. When I was in my mid twenties I began to ponder the meaning of the poem and what Eliot was trying to convey.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!

Getting older I realised I did not want to be like this man who could not make up his mind and ultimately missed something that may have been profound. It occurred to me that risks not taken were great tragedies in life. It does not matter if situations, relationships or even jobs do not turn out how you thought they would. The important thing was to try them, risk getting hurt or being wrong. I have gotten hurt and been wrong many times but I try not to regret the choices I have made. They are my choices and if they had not been ventured nothing would have been gained, even if sometimes the only thing gained was a lesson not to make that choice again.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Still makes me smile!


  1. There used to be a radio show in the 60's called "the Glen Abbey show" and they used to say "Let's go with the glen abbey show" on it every week. My sister used to say it to her daughters and they still say it to this day, not having a clue either what it means or where it came from.

  2. That's so odd Chuckles. It must be where my Mum got it from then. Nice to know :-)

  3. My ma used to say that too! I saw this pic and it reminded me. So I googled it and found this page

  4. I'm from Ireland and live in the US. Our family : Dutch wife, and American daughter, sat it almost every day!

    1. It has even spread across the pond! Thanks for stopping by, Jim :-)