I Have Measured Out My Life With Coffee Spoons Meaning Explanation 

Only one charming line of poetry can stay in your mind forever. Numerous literature lovers are falling for famous and meaningful quotes. Readers not only enjoy the lines of the poem but also find the meaning behind it and get inspired. One of the poignant lines from the poetry to read is the line “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”. What poem does this wonderful line belong to? And what is the meaning behind it? Within this article, you might get yourself the right answer to this question. 


The line “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” belongs to the main character – “Prufrock” in the poem named “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” commonly known as “Prufrock”. It was written by the American-born British poet T.S.Eliot in 1910 and first published in 1915. This is the first professionally printed poem by American-born British poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965). Eliot began writing “Prufrock” in February 1910, and it was first published in the June 1915 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse at the instigation of Ezra Pound (1885–1972). Prufrock was regarded as outrageous when it was released, but it is generally seen as foreshadowing a paradigm change in culture from late 19th-century Romantic poems and Georgian songs to Modernism.

Prufrock – the man fighting his inside conflict

J. Alfred Prufrock’s love song – is a typical poem of Modernism, written following the dramatic monologue. The man in the poem is the storyteller, who tells the story of his life to a silent listener as a way to reveal his inner feelings directly to the reader. J. Alfred Prufrock – a shy, overly cautious middle-aged man – led the listener on a tour through his boring gray world, through the shabby corners of the streets in the city, to his familiar neighborhoods which are the cheap hotels and restaurants, night clubs, tea-house or some clubs that he frequented. He often met some women there and chatted with them. However, he hesitated, sitting at a separate table with his back turned. The man did not participate in any activity because he had a fear of being clumsy while speaking something and was ashamed of what he wore, which might turn him into a fool in the eyes of people. 

Explaining the meaning of the line

When reading this line, readers might feel ambiguous about the meaning behind it. The poetry did not over clearly describe the mood of the character in simple words, he wanted to leave the philosophy of life in a poetic line. He wanted readers who truly enjoyed the poem could understand his implicit meaningful messages.

The line “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” in the poem well exposes his ego of Prufrock. The whole poem is about the loneliness, hesitance, and unconfidence of the man about his life and the way he makes his life so safe that it is turned into a dark tedious color is the reason. As we can see, this line partially stands for Prufrock’s ideals of life. 

The image of the word “coffee spoons” means something that is too careful and predictable. One spoon, two spoons, or several spoons makes life less exciting because of the rigid manner lifestyle it brings about. He chose to measure his life with coffee spoons which are considered to always follow the recipe; in this case, it emphasizes the “limited extent” of Prufrock’s monotonous life. 

Prufrock has spent the bulk of his time on what is trivial and inconsequential, such as drinking coffee.  Coffee spoon is the one that contrasts significantly to creating a great work or with the lyrical mermaids from Greek poetry that appear in Prufrock’s dreams. He has been making his meticulously measured cups of coffee with tiny spoons as a way to avoid getting himself into adventurous things. 

Every day, every decision he makes, everywhere he goes, every word he speaks, or even just a thought in his mind is carefully put under control. His desire is to live a heroic life and do big things, but in reality, his neurotic personality prevents him from doing so. Every moment he gets out into society, he deeply feels many shortcomings as an individual among the majority. 

Furthermore the image of “coffee spoons” is talking about the dull rhythm of his repetitive life. The motions of a daily routine of making a cup of coffee repeated as he aged. Prufrock does not have much time left to fix his life so he keeps doing what he used to do. 

More than that, the plural of spoons symbolizes a repeating activity resembling coffee stirring – the reflecting mode that is attached to the cycle of fate. “Coffee spoons” bear the meaning of repetition, that Prufrock has kept repeating the same thing day by day, year by year, and then struggles with his own regrets that he didn’t use wisely the time that has passed. 

According to Eliot, man is cursed, as are we all, to the motion of endless recurring – in a slow death. It’s a nightmare scenario that we replay like stirring sugar into tea or coffee every morning. Thinking about how many times we have squandered time and life makes us feel depressed and regretful.

The word “measure” is also very crucial in the evaluation of this poem. The way Prufrock sighs about his monotonous life was a hint for readers to explore the complexities of Prufrock’s internal monologue using this word. 

Final thoughts

The line “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”  is one of the remarkable details to describe inner feeling of Prufrock. He has such a complicated heart that desires freedom, recklessness, and going beyond his own zone but at the same time, he creates a huge shield to protect his life.

Prufrock is ambitious, however, it is not enough to pull him out of the zone, he keeps putting his life under control and then regrets it. Finally, the coffee spoon seems to be an obsessed symbol that starts the stigma in his fate forcing this man to stay inside the consistent cage forever.