“My Madness Singing”: the specter of syphilis in Prufrock’s Love Song
Concluding paragraph: "This unpleasant conclusion results from Prufrock’s night in the “Pervigilium,” since his encounters with ambiguous women and his fears of venereal disease disturb him so much that they distance him from both his beloved and the mermaids. Eliot’s missed sexual opportunities bothered him, and in a 1962 interview, he acknowledged that he based Prufrock on himself, stating “[i]t was partly a dramatic creation of a man of about 40, … and partly an expression of feeling of my own through this dim imaginary figure” (Sigg 242). Thus, the progression of Prufrock’s anxieties over the course of the “The Love Song” and the “Pervigilium” serves as “an expression” of Eliot’s inner conflict during his time in Paris. Perhaps, then, Eliot deleted the section because he felt that it invaded his sense of privacy and modesty. Going along with this idea, Eliot may have worried that the explicitly sexual aspects of the “Pervigilium” would offend his parents; his female readers; and even the editor of Poetry, Harriet Monroe. Alternatively, perhaps Eliot simply felt that his additions were not at the same artistic level as the rest of the poem. Whatever the case, in 1960 Eliot wrote to the TLS that “[he had] enough recollection of the suppressed verses to remain grateful to Mr. Aiken for advising [him] at once to suppress them” (March Hare 176). Still, writing the “Pervigilium” allowed Eliot to examine the consequences of his own carnal desires. With Prufrock’s defeat in “The Love Song,” Eliot could see the potential outcome of lifelong hesitation. Terrified by his character’s status as an eternal bachelor, Eliot quickly altered his own course: in 1915 he married Vivienne Haigh-Wood."