In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

from T.S. Eliot – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock on Rap Genius

Meaning

The original title of the poem was “Prufrock Among the Women.”

Prufrock presumably harbors carnal intent; the women he interacts with want only to discuss the “high” arts, with the flighty “come and go” suggesting a flitting, superficial patter on the Renaissance.

“Michelangelo” perhaps references Prufrock himself. Prufrock is “sculpting” the persona he will adopt for the specific interaction(s).

Notice how the mainly monosyllabic words with consonance of the first line contrast with the polysyllabic Michelangelo of the second line. This conveys how the women are trivializing the great artist.

Michelangelo might also be symbolic of the desired figure for a man at the time and Prufrock is observing this.

Eliot creatively translates/borrows from an author whom he much admired and whose style inspired much of Prufrock, Jules LaForgue.

LaForgue’s lines read:

Dans la piece les femmes vont et viennent
En parlant des maîtres de Sienne.

i.e. “in the room the women come and go / talking of the Siennese Masters.”

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