The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Fog/kitten metaphor going on here (Eliot is known for his kitten imagery; his poems inspired my mom’s favorite musical: Cats). Eliot creates a metaphor about cats without actually using the word “cat.”
The yellow gas is sulfur coming from burning coal. The image is a smog filled, dirty city, adding to the poems sordid feel; yet, Eliot is always subtle: these lines are not an outright condemnation of the pollution,rather, they disturbingly portray it in a seductive and aesthetic light.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot and leave a comment on the lyrics box