Marina Tsvetaeva and T.S. Eliot on Parties


Elizabeth Myhr


A small study in the poetry of two passionate poets – one quietly desperate, the other stridently disgusted –  on feeling socially isolated at parties. Eliot, young and English, Tsvetaeva, young and Russian.


From Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock written in 1910:

… And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
               And should I then presume?
               And how should I begin?



From Marina Tsevtaeva’s Poem of the End, written in 1924:


… A blonde mist, a wave of
gauze ruffles, of human
breathing, smoky exhalations
endless talk      the smell of
what? of haste and filth
connivance       shabby acts          all
the secrets of business  men
     and ballroom powder.

~Tsvetaeva  (Feinstein trans.)

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