Friday, July 16, 2010

Ave Maria, a poem by Frank O'Hara.

Post 525 - Frank (Francis Russell) O'Hara was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1926. He grew up in Massachusetts, and later studied piano at the New England Conservatory from 1941 to 1944. O'Hara then served in the South Pacific and Japan as a sonarman on the destroyer USS Nicholas during World War II.

Following the war, O'Hara studied at Harvard, where he majored in music. He also wrote poetry at that time and began to publish his poems in the Harvard Advocate. He changed his major and left Harvard in 1950 with a degree in English. He then attended graduate school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and received his M.A. in 1951. O'Hara then moved to New York and got a job at the front desk of the Museum of Modern Art. His association with the painters Larry Rivers, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns became a source of inspiration for his highly original poetry. He attempted to produce with words the effects these artists had created on canvas.

O'Hara continued working at the Museum of Modern Art throughout his life, curating exhibitions and writing catalogs for exhibits and tours. In 1966, he was killed in a sand buggy accident while vacationing on Fire Island. He was forty years old.


Ave Maria by Frank O'Hara

Mothers of America
let your kids go to the movies!
get them out of the house so they won't know what you're up to
it's true that fresh air is good for the body
but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images
and when you grow old as grow old you must
they won't hate you
they won't criticize you they won't know
they'll be in some glamorous country
they first saw on a Saturday afternoon or playing hookey

they may even be grateful to you
for their first sexual experience
which only cost you a quarter
and didn't upset the peaceful home
they will know where candy bars come from
and gratuitous bags of popcorn
as gratuitous as leaving the movie before it's over
with a pleasant stranger whose apartment is in the Heaven on Earth Bldg
near the Williamsburg Bridge
oh mothers you will have made the little tykes
so happy because if nobody does pick them up in the movies
they won't know the difference
and if somebody does it'll be sheer gravy
and they'll have been truly entertained either way
instead of hanging around the yard
or up in their room hating you
prematurely since you won't have done anything horribly mean yet
except keeping them from the darker joys
it's unforgivable the latter
so don't blame me if you won't take this advice
and the family breaks up
and your children grow old and blind in front of a TV set
seeing movies you wouldn't let them see when they were young

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