Everything you need to understand or teach The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot.
This epigraph is taken from Dante's Divine Comedy. It reads: "If I thought my answer were to one who could ever return to the world, this flame would move no more; but since no one has ever returned alive from this depth, if what I hear be true, without fear of infamy I answer you." The words are spoken by a lost soul, damned to Hell for the attempt to buy absolution in advance of committing a crime. This correlates with Prufrock's need to know the answer to the question he wants to ask as a condition of asking it. Or perhaps in order for Prufrock to be able to ask the question he would have to not care what the answer would be; in that case, the answer wouldn't matter.
Prufrock, the persona of the poem, issues his invitation to an unspecified "you" to go with him to... View more of the The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Summary