Header PostFeaturedImage 04

For Grace, After A Party by Frank O’Hara

A lot of people have been coming here lately to read Frank O’Hara’s Having A Coke With You. I’ll be honest: it surprised me, as I was perfectly content to be here in my corner and keep quiet. I’ve been posting his work for years and it’s always just the two of us. I can’t deny that it unsettled me a little bit, enough to think I should pack up and move elsewhere (I try to keep everything intensely small), but I also like how there’s a surge of interest in a poet I have loved all these years. It wasn’t until a few comments later when I realized that the said poem had been read in a movie recently (well, a few months ago I think; yes, I’m always late to the party, apparently).

So, answers to your questions: No, I haven’t seen it. No, I don’t think I will see it. No, poetry is not dead! I’m sorry, but I think the people who assume and say that are the people who don’t read it, are not actively seeking it, or just don’t understand how poetry works, and its role in our lives. No, I’m not particularly satisfied at O’Hara’s poem’s ‘mainstream appearance’ (your words, not mine), but from what I’ve read of him, he will probably be a bit amused at the attention (I could be wrong though; but in my head we are friends). Yes, he is one of my favourite poets. Yes, I am glad that the movie has made you discover him, and that it brought you here. No, I don’t enjoy the spike in traffic, but now that you’re here, I want to interest you into reading some more poetry.

If you ask me, one should see (instead) Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête – it is a masterpiece and has inspired one of my favourite composers, Philip Glass to write an opera. (Hey, it inspired Stevie Nicks, too.) Also, I loved the old Beauty and the Beast TV series, starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman; the theme song, The First Time I Loved Forever, includes spoken verses from e.e. cummings’ somewhere i have never travelled. Listen to that here.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite awhile, but have no motivation to do so until someone finally declared abomination, which made me laugh. I hope the interest doesn’t stop there, with just one poem, and I hope you discover that Frank O’Hara has a lot more beautiful work than the one you heard in the movie theater. Here, let me show you something very dear to me:

For Grace, After A Party
Frank O’Hara

You do not always know what I am feeling.
Last night in the warm spring air while I was
blazing my tirade against someone who doesn’t
me, it was love for you that set me

and isn’t it odd? for in rooms full of
strangers my most tender feelings
writhe and
bear the fruit of screaming. Put out your hand,
isn’t there
an ashtray, suddenly, there? beside
the bed? And someone you love enters the room
and says wouldn’t
you like the eggs a little

different today?
And when they arrive they are
just plain scrambled eggs and the warm weather
is holding.

This is from The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara, edited by Donald Allen, published by Vintage Books, 1974.

I have also dug up a few more from the archives, so here you go.

Comments (6)

  • I believe the spark in traffic to your HACWY page was due to its inclusion in the film Beastly, a recent release aimed at teenagers. I am glad you are here.

  • I will admit, I arrived here, in a roundabout way, via Beastly, which was a silly show, but which introduced me to the poem. And that, alone, was a good reason to watch it. Thank you for your blog. It is full of loveliness. I have really enjoyed it these last few days.

  • K4engel

    Wow, this poem is beautiful. Some of his other stuff I find a little odd, like the dirty song poem, but this one I love.

  • Perfect ending. Understated, and just the kind of thing that leaves a lump in your throat.

  • I don’t know why this tickles my soul so much.

  • Sometimes, when I forget that I am in love, as someone who has long been in love occasionally does (which is I’m afraid just a sad truth of being in love for a long enough period of time – I hope dearly this is a feeling you too know as you are by now a friend). I come here. Not here here. But someplace around or close to here. And through your words and the words you have particularly chosen I am reminded that I am indeed and most defiantly in love. Even if it is in my own quiet way. Because, at least for me, that is what love is, it is finding someone else in tiny little things, like orange juice and other people sentences.
    So thank you for that.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.