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Music - Poem by Frank O'Hara

If I rest for a moment near The Equestrian
pausing for a liver sausage sandwich in the Mayflower Shoppe,
that angel seems to be leading the horse into Bergdorf's
and I am naked as a table cloth, my nerves humming.
Close to the fear of war and the stars which have disappeared.
I have in my hands only 35c, it's so meaningless to eat!
and gusts of water spray over the basins of leaves
like the hammers of a glass pianoforte. If I seem to you
to have lavender lips under the leaves of the world,
I must tighten my belt.
It's like a locomotive on the march, the season
of distress and clarity
and my door is open to the evenings of midwinter's
lightly falling snow over the newspapers.
Clasp me in your handkerchief like a tear, trumpet
of early afternoon! in the foggy autumn.
As they're putting up the Christmas trees on Park Avenue
I shall see my daydreams walking by with dogs in blankets,
put to some use before all those coloured lights come on!
But no more fountains and no more rain,
and the stores stay open terribly late.


Comments about Music by Frank O'Hara

  • Freshman - 529 Points Brian Jani (6/19/2014 5:20:00 AM)

    I like your choice of theme, its like i was there (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rookie Allan Wikman (4/10/2009 1:38:00 PM)

    Could you believe the U. S Internal Revenue Service
    conceived April to be National Poetry Month,
    just to take our minds off dreaded income taxes? *


    Regardless of its origin, would you care to experience a paroxysm of ecstacy as you appropriately commemorate this rare,30-day month of April,2009?

    Here's the skinny: I have had an extended blast, a challenge and the joy begining, as I recall, in September,1999. Its spark, a brilliant feast concocted by a Harper's magazine editor.

    He'd invited five well-known (North) American poets, including one soon to become a Pulitzer prize winner, to attend a round-table discussion of each others' 'favorite [another poet's] poem, ' at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel.

    I presume he tape recorded the colloquy: he presented the reader a
    seeming verbatim of the poets' menu.

    I nestled into my easy chair and, immediately began to salivate. Though a college graduate, and in my late 60s, I had never been privileged to participate in such an event. It was, and continues each time I re-read it and my notes, to be a highlight of my now 77 years.

    You might enjoy the experience. And I, yours, if you'll do me a simultaneous favor, that'll make my continuing journey even more pleasurable and educational.

    This year's spark is, yeah, it's another April: 2009. But the meat: 'an exception to the rule' at the start: 10 years ago,1999.

    It's likely each participating poet had, beforehand, shared...rehearsed...with his/her colleagues a favorite poem which the five were to dissect, critique, rank among a poetry-pantheon. A refreshing, free-wheeling discussion ensued. No calories, yet I salivated to the point of dehydration.

    The 'Masters' convincingly interpreted four poems. No typo that word. None of the five, not even Dartmouth's English teacher whose 'favorite' it was, could fathom the fifth.

    I concluded that I had...this poetaster...inchoate poet...had succeeded where the experts had been left unknowing...even unsuspecting...outright wrong? ...I was certain that I had discovered the identity of Frank O'Hara's hero...main character...in his classic,1954 (the year I graduated from college) , 'Music.' A poem I'd not heard of until that moment. I persisted even after I read a current O'Hara biography some readers of which might disagree with my conclusion!

    I telephoned Dartmouth's English professor, boldly claiming to have found the key. 'Please write me, ' she said. I did. Mailed her the entire, four or five-page (lost - now somewhere in my piles of papers) review.

    Never heard a word from her. I'd grown physically strained. Tired out. Bored, even. I tossed my papers in a pile. Forgot the issue. Until the following year when the nearby Rosendale, NY, library called for people to come read a favorite poem. I read 'Music.' Supposedly all readings were tape recorded, sent to 'Washington.'
    Had it been the Smithsonian?

    That event newly emboldened me. Resurfaced my resentment that I'd not heard 'yes, ' 'no' or 'maybe' from Hanover, NH.

    I set out to locate the other four poets. I wrote each the history. Heard from two, including an understandably-terse, yet complimentary postcard from Princeton Professor (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Paul Muldoon. In a handwritten note 'on scrap paper, ' the other neither agreed nor disagreed with my thesis, saying only words to the effect, 'I don't usually dig that deeply into a poem's (or the poet's) meaning.' I was and am grateful that the two responded.

    BACKGROUND
    My high school was ranked third in the nation. I graduated on schedule with middling grades, yet clutching a superior zoo of extra-currics. My college degree, for the receipt of which I suffered dearly, is from a member of the so-called, 'Ivy League.' Yet, alas, I devoted four years to higher learning but 'treading water.'

    As early as my junior year in high school, my sole objective was 'A college degree, ' my ticket to that 'good job' in American industry.

    I did. And got that job merely on my employer's anticipation of my achieving that degree.

    Yet, because I couldn't read, I squandered four years of college. The very act of reading (despite my vocabulary of 99.999) was so physically and emotionally exhausting that, throughout my first 21 years, left un-read were thousands upon thousands of now-treasured pages of literature, history, philosophy, sociology, psychology...I kid you not; the list grows daily.

    I'm still trying to determine why. Until last week, I had blamed symptoms of year-'round, multiple food- and environmental-allergies. Indeed, they may be the culprits. Yet a fellow-ISPEr's assessment of my tale has made me believe I may be what's known as an 'Aspie.'

    Yes, a Harvard psychiatrist had diagnosed me, at age 63, with having AD/HD, by definition, since early childhood. His Rx: Ritalin. But Asberger's?

    Not until I was 32, and chugging along at a fairly decent pace in business, did any physician suspect the origin to be ubiquitous allergies. His desensitization injections turned my life around 180 degrees.

    Yet, NOW the problem became my no-longer-latent craving for, and the satisfaction I believed I could find, only on the printed page.

    Miss Nichols was my high school junior year English teacher. Several years earlier, she had taken a sabbatical to the British Isles to absord wisdom from her dead English lit heroes and heroines. Especially Will Shakespeare. No big deal. Except...she had acquired a British accent which, throughout her remaining years she assiduously and quite successfully strived to exhibit. My dyslexia and Miss N's hilarious mannerisms screened me from any normal appreciation of her teachings.

    Behind her back, we boys teased, especially her idiosyncrasies, unmercifully. I left high school with the obligatory attitude: 'Miss Nichols? Ho, ho. ho.'

    Today, that summary dismissal is one of my biggest regrets.

    Thus my education began in my late thirties. Self-motivated. Random. Spur of the moment. As I familiarized myself, albeit agonizingly-slowly, with the wonders of the written word, I became more invigorated, yet ever-more frustrated, knowing I would never, ever, complete my list of 'must reads.'

    This is all to explain the thrill of the extended-adventure begun the moment I discovered Harpers' 15 pages or so titled, 'How to Peel a Poem.' It was the equivalent, for me, of an accelerated, university grad school, interpretive poetry symposium. Whatever that might be.

    I encourage you to get a copy. And I implore you to share with me your take on Frank O'Hara's 'MUSIC.' Especially to identify his hero. And, if you would please, your evidence.

    Allan Wikman
    Kingston, UlsterCountyNY
    845 + 802-0403
    awikman@hvc.rr.com

    PS: April,2010, I'll report what's occurred between now and then. And make available the document I mailed to the five poets.

    PPS: If a copy of 'Music' eludes you, email me. I'll send it to you.

    * I didn't say the IRS originated AIPM, just asked if you could believe it. (Report) Reply

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Poems About Music

  1. 1. I Am In Need Of Music , Elizabeth Bishop
  2. 2. Dirge Without Music , Edna St. Vincent Millay
  3. 3. Celestial Music , Louise Gluck
  4. 4. Music , Walter de la Mare
  5. 5. I Know The Music , Wilfred Owen
  6. 6. Music Swims Back To Me , Anne Sexton
  7. 7. Ancient Music , Ezra Pound
  8. 8. Broken Music , Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  9. 9. We Are The Music-Makers , Arthur William Edgar O'Shaug ..
  10. 10. Music, When Soft Voices Die , Percy Bysshe Shelley
  11. 11. What Is Music To You? , Sylvia Chidi
  12. 12. (1) Before The Music Ends , Sandra Fowler
  13. 13. Sonnet 128: How Oft, When Thou, My Music.. , William Shakespeare
  14. 14. Bagpipe Music , Louis Macneice
  15. 15. Music , Rainer Maria Rilke
  16. 16. Call It Music , Philip Levine
  17. 17. Music , Frank O'Hara
  18. 18. At A Solemn Music , John Milton
  19. 19. April Music , s./j. goldner
  20. 20. Sonnet 8: Music To Hear, Why Hear'st Tho.. , William Shakespeare
  21. 21. That Music Always Round Me , Walt Whitman
  22. 22. The Music , Kathryn Thompson
  23. 23. To Music , Rainer Maria Rilke
  24. 24. From Spring Days To Winter (For Music) , Oscar Wilde
  25. 25. Words For Music Perhaps , William Butler Yeats
  26. 26. Alexander's Feast; Or, The Power Of Music , John Dryden
  27. 27. Church Music , George Herbert
  28. 28. On Music , Thomas Moore
  29. 29. The Choir And Music Of Solitude And Sile.. , Delmore Schwartz
  30. 30. Away With Funeral Music , Robert Louis Stevenson
  31. 31. Music I Heard , Conrad Potter Aiken
  32. 32. Music , Wilfred Owen
  33. 33. Secret Music , Siegfried Sassoon
  34. 34. Better—than Music! For I—who Heard It , Emily Dickinson
  35. 35. Music , .Pd. is here
  36. 36. Proud Music Of The Storm , Walt Whitman
  37. 37. Italian Music In Dakota , Walt Whitman
  38. 38. War Music [down On Your Knees, Achilles] , Christopher Logue
  39. 39. Song And Music , Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  40. 40. There Is A Lady Sweet And Kind, Thomas F.. , Anonymous
  41. 41. Perplexed Music , Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  42. 42. Master Of Music , Henry Van Dyke
  43. 43. To The One Of Fictive Music , Wallace Stevens
  44. 44. Transcription Of Organ Music , Allen Ginsberg
  45. 45. Five For Country Music , Lisel Mueller
  46. 46. ! ! Impressionism In Paint, In Music, In.. , Michael Shepherd
  47. 47. Split The Lark&Mdash;And You'Ll Find The.. , Emily Dickinson
  48. 48. Music , Arthur Seymour John Tessimond
  49. 49. Music: An Ode , Algernon Charles Swinburne
  50. 50. Sing -- Sing -- Music Was Given , Thomas Moore
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