The very first lines of "The Love Song of J. Eliot are inspired by Dante's "Inferno". It is these first lines that are called the epigraph. In "Inferno, the lines are translated as:.
If I thought that my reply would be to one who would ever return to the world, this flame would stay without further movement; but since none has ever returned alive from this depth, if what I hear is true, I answer you without fear of infamy.
The speaker, Count Guido da Montefelltro, is imprisoned in the Eighth Chasm of Hell. Eliot uses the opening with an allusion to "Inferno" to provide a visual. He compares the earth that Prufrock is living in, such as "through half-deserted streets, to the hell that Montefelltro lives in. Prufrock feels lonely and alienated as if everyone treated him like a fly under a magnifying glass. When Montefelltro speaks to Dante, he speaks on the assumption that Dante will never make it back to share his story. In the poem, Prufrock is speaking to his listener as if the listener is never going to tell a soul about poor Prufrock's insecurities. During his time with Guido, Dante is expected to take heed to his warning; it is like he is saying "Don't do what I did". T.S Eliot uses the same thinking when he has Prufrock warn the reader to not do what he did. The rest of the poem is a tale of a middle aged man who is balding. This balding soul never got to fully say what he needed to the love of his life. Like Montefelltro, he made mistakes in his life and now he is showing another what happened in hopes a lesson is learned. The last line of the stanza, "Let us go and make our visit" stands out by saying he is ready to relive the worst moment of his life. After he introduces the reader to his own hell, he can talk about anything.