Mermaids Do Not Equal Unfaithful Women

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“Donne’s use of the mermaid image to suggest the danger women pose to men most probably alludes to The Odyssey, in which only the wily Odysseus survived hearing the siren’s song.  The persona’s placing of the possibility of hearing these femme fatales sing among the impossible tasks enumerated in stanza one of ‘Song’ sets the mood for the entire poem” (Blythe and Sweet). 

I found Blythe and Sweet’s comparison between Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and Donne’s “Song: Go and catch a falling star” to be extremely interesting.  I too could see the parallels between the two.  I especially found the mention of the singing mermaids in both poems to be an intriguing observation.  However, I disagree with their interpretation of Eliot’s poem.  They do use quotes from the text to support their viewpoint.  But to me, Eliot’s poem was not so much about women being evil, as the narrator realizing all the wasted time he has spent. 

Eliot’s numerous references to sleep (lines 3, 22, etc), of an “October night” (line 21), the mention of “a bald spot in the middle of my hair” (line 40), and the belief that there had been time for “a hundred indecisions,/And for a hundred visions and revisions (lines 32-3) led me to believe the poem is more about the author’s sadness over never having heard the mermaids sing because he thought he had all the time in the world to do so, and not so much a belief that there are no “true” women in the world. 

4 Comments

Angelica Guzzo said:

Great observation. I too enjoyed the mermaids. I never realized that the mentioning of sleep had to do with his sadness of the mermaids not singing.

Kaitlin Monier said:

I agree with you when you say that Eliot's poem was not about evil women, but rather time wasted. It did not have a tone of all-women-are-evil, but rather a sad, almost depressing tone.

Deana Kubat said:

yeah, i read this and it didn't really make sense. haha i do get what your saying though about the mermaids and all of that and how it all connects, but its just a little strange. it makes me think of ariel of the little mermaid and how could she be something soo.....soooo evil?

Deana Kubat said:

yeah, i read this and it didn't really make sense. haha i do get what your saying though about the mermaids and all of that and how it all connects, but its just a little strange. it makes me think of ariel of the little mermaid and how could she be something soo.....soooo evil?

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