A Lovely Sight and Temporary

Frank O'Hara - "Ode to Joy" (2'25"). This is the sexier, sweatier, altogether desublimated alternative to Schiller's famous poem, an ode to interminable jouissance, to infinite and inexhaustible lust as the abolition of want and indeed of mortality itself ("No more dying"), an anthem for those who "acknowledge vulgar materialistic laughter / over insatiable sexual appetite" as their flag. The form of the poem is strict but inconspicuous: three sections of thirteen expansive lines each, with identical four-syllable codas closing the first and last. The initial, third, sixth, and eleventh lines of each strophe carry past the line break, creating verse paragraphs of considerable momentum and internal complexity, hallmarks of O'Hara's brilliant work in the ode form at the end of 1950s. The typical line consists of fifteen syllables or more and takes up to four seconds to read aloud; each strophe runs to between forty-five and fifty seconds. O'Hara's voicing* is flat relative to the sexually surcharged content but it rides the complex syntax with faultless subtlety, for example in the parallel constructions of strophe two: "and there'll be no more music but the ears in lips and no more wit but tongues in ears and no more drums but ears to thighs." Recorded in September 1963, this segment continues with O'Hara's reading of "To Hell With It," a bonus track ("another filthy page of poetry") to take with you into the weekend....

(*I can't shake the impression that the recording is several rpms, or fps, too fast. Can anyone confirm?)

More O'Hara on Ubuweb. O'Hara's author page at EPC. A "Frank O'Hara Exhibit" at Modern American Poetry. • An xml version of this page is here (scroll to bottom and click xml to subscribe to feed). A cumulative track listing is here.

Friday -- 02 June 2006 -- permalink

The Lipstick of Noise is a product of the Third Factory • Inspired by the music blogs • And by Paul Blackburn's reel-to-reel deck. Intending to make good use of PENNSound and other sources of digital audio files of poetry • Comments welcomeXML.