Review: Poem: A la Recherche de Gertrude Stein by Frank O’Hara

After three weeks of administrative failure on the part of the school of English, I finally had a lecture on Wednesday. I didn’t really know what to expect from Frank O’Hara. I hadn’t heard of him until last week, and I think this was kind of the point of his work. Poetry for poetry’s sake. Not writing with the intention of creating a masterpiece and achieving world acclaim. But for enjoyment, to show appreciation for the moment. It was this which interested me.

Poem: A la Recherche de Gertrude Stein is fantastic. Read it as if one is talking intimately to a loved one. It is a spontaneous overflow of emotions and so needs to be read in a breathless frenzy to really understand it.

When I am feeling depressed and anxious sullen
all you have to do is take your clothes off
and all is wiped away revealing life’s tenderness
that we are flesh and breathe and are near us
as you are really as you are I become as I
really am alive and knowing vaguely what is
and what is important to me above the intrusions
of incident and accidental relationships
which have nothing to do with my life

when I am in your presence I feel life is strong
and will defeat all its enemies and all of mine
and all of yours in you and mine in me
sick logic and feeble reasoning are cured
by the perfect symmetry of your arms and legs
spread out making an eternal circle together
creating a golden pillar beside the Atlantic
the faint line of hair dividing your torso
gives my mind rest and emotions their release
into the infinite air where since once we are
together we always will be in this life come what may

The breathlessness that the poem creates is evidence of breathtakingness. A lack of punctuation makes it harder to read without breath ย and pauses. Passionate overflow of uncontrollable emotion. The use of simple language does not make it less poetic and babyish like some have criticised. To me it helps to recreate that isolated moment, with the two bodies lying next to each other are the only people in the world. Their nakedness is a reflection of both a literal lack of clothes but also they are so comfortable with each other, they have stripped away any shields. They have pulled down their protective guard.

Again, I reiterate my point. Amazing.

Any Couple

Any Couple.


9 thoughts on “Review: Poem: A la Recherche de Gertrude Stein by Frank O’Hara

    • I haven’t really read much Larkin so I may have to look into this. But I just love how powerfully evocative O’Hara’s poetry it is and at the same time still writing about a simple idea and not getting too carried away. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Wow I love is! Thanks for sharing – I’ve not read any before so I’m genuine,y grateful for the introduction to his work, totally agree with your comments too.

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