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I've long been a fan of T.S. Eliot's poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. However, it seems to me that his use of "you and I" in the opening lines is incorrect.

Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky

My reasoning is that "you and I" replaces "us" and you wouldn't say "Let I go then", so it should be Let us go then, you and me.

Is this Eliot taking poetic license or am I just wrong?

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    I was chosen to rhyme with sky ( the answer is as easy as pie.) Apr 21 '14 at 14:23
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    It is a parenthetical explicit reference to the subject of the sentence: "Let us (you and I) go then . . ."
    – Robusto
    Apr 21 '14 at 14:27
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    This particular one is probably best not called 'incorrect' either way. "Let's you and me mosey along to the old corral" is certainly met with in colloquial Western-speak. "It's goodnight from Moira and I" is certainly met with in BBC highbrow. I think Eliot's choice sounds far better than the alternative here, and, accepting Robusto's parenthetical claim, it can be alleged to refer to either the recoverable missing subject or the object (us). There's also the complication that the first person imperative (Let's + infinitive) is idiomatic and quirky, not really allowing typical analysis. Apr 21 '14 at 14:40
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    We must remember that the voice is not that of Eliot but of J Alfred Prufrock, who I can imagine saying ‘Let us go then, you and I’ rather than ‘Let us go then, you and me’. Apr 21 '14 at 16:45
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    Neil Coffey wrote: 'It's not so much that there's confusion per se. It's more that the arbitrary "rules" about 'I' and 'me' being used in particular cases [were] arbitrarily invented – and then the inventors and followers of these arbitrary rules arbitrarily became surprised/indignant when it turned out that the language doesn't behave in accordance with their made-up rules. If anything, it's the rules and followers thereof that are "confused".' As a teacher, I'd have marked 'you and me' down for inconsistent style here, not 'you and I' for breaking a rule made by someone who was all thumbs. Apr 21 '14 at 22:45
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The question can, as Edwin has said, be related to questions about ‘between you and I’ and ‘They invited my wife and I’. The fact is that English pronouns, particularly the first person singular personal pronoun, are unstable, and have been for a long time. To me, as a fairly well educated speaker of British English, there is nothing ungrammatical about Eliot’s use of ‘you and I’ in that line. He was too good a poet to use it only to make a rhyme with ‘sky’.

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    Let's you and me mosey along then, when the evening is spread out against the sky ... Apr 21 '14 at 14:37
  • Or "Let's us'ns vamoose..."
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 21 '14 at 18:17

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