Thursday, November 20, 2008

Frank O'Hara's "Having a Coke With You"

Having a Coke with You” by Frank O'Hara

(click above link for poem)

Here are the only things that you should and / or need to know to explicate this poem; consider them your “footnotes”:

Polish Rider by Rembrandt

Futurism (not really important for the explication of the poem, but in case you wanted to know what it was.)

Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp

Marino Marini, who made the sculpture Horseman

If you do the explication correctly, you will notice that all outside information is extraneous and will not help you explain HOW THE POET CREATES "MEANING."

Please post your essay in the comment stream by 8:45 a.m. Monday, November 24th, 2008.

Please leave an extra space between the paragraphs when you post.

Here are some materials that may help:

APE Rubric (with grade translation)

Poetry Explication Assignment 2.0

Finally, a not-so-subtle reminder for those of you who may have forgotten some “poetic truths”: 1. It is the speaker of a poem (not the narrator) who “speaks” the lines; it is also not the poet or the poem who speaks. 2. Indicate line breaks / with a slash. Indicate stanza breaks // with two slashes.

There are a million ways to explicate this poem, so your explication should be different than all others posted before you. Post early if you are worried about this.


Ashley A said...

“Having a Coke with You”

At times, it appears as if the greater things in life, cast a shadow over the finer and less prominent ones, however, all too often, the finer objects in life up hold the greatest and most essential values. In the poem Having a Coke with You, Frank O'Hara suggests that the love and passion one finds in the most common and everyday artifacts are essential to even the most significant and complex situations in life because they add a different sense of richness and depth. O’Hara creates this idea through the use of simple diction, comparisons, and references to some of the most significant periods of the artistic movement.

In the first shift of the poem, the speaker conveys the idea that he would forgo the luxury of the most expensive and lavish possessions for the opportunity to partake in simple and ordinary occurrences with his lover. In the first line of the poem, the speaker states that he would rather “[have] a coke with you…” (a simple occurrence) than take exotic trips to “…San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, [or] Bayonne.” (line 1) O’Hara continues this idea with the use of simple diction with the reoccurring use of “…partly because…” (lines 3-6) in order to connect his idea of how much he would enjoy spending time with his lover, opposed to doing more extravagant things. The speaker once again reiterates this idea by saying his lover’s “…love for yoghurt…”(line 4), another common action, is another reason why he would rather spend time with his lover than partake in other events. By line six, the speaker continues to give his reasons for spending time with his lover when he states, “…[the] secrecy our smiles take on before people…” (line 6), which introduces another idea along the same principal of cherishing one’s significant other, because the speaker emphasizes that the bond he and his lover share are so personal and secretive that even when they display their affection for one another in front of others, it is as if no one else notices. The speaker introduces the topic of art in the following lines and how much he would prefer being around his lover than looking at portraits, which then forces him to contemplate why artists would even paint if the “…portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all…” (line 11) With those words, the speaker is able to establish the idea that finding passion that goes beyond abstract art and is found between two individuals, allows them to create a special and personal bond that others cannot identify.

The next shift occurs between lines thirteen through twenty-three and the speaker notes that beauty found in any painting or portrait can easily be found within his lover. For instance, in line seventeen, the speaker says “…the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism…”(line 17) and with that, the speaker compares all of the beauties captured in art, with the various styles and movements to his lover. Basically, he says that all of those qualities can be found within his lover and through the passion they share with one another. Although, in previous lines, the speaker notes that if he were to see any portrait it would be “… Polish Rider…” but “…it’s in the Frick which thank heavens [his lover hasn’t] gone to yet so [they] can go together the first time…”(lines 15-16). Although those lines slightly contrast with the speaker’s overall idea, it doesn’t completely go against his thoughts because the Polish Rider sculpture will be something they both can view in the Frick for the first time together, which is another experience that will bring them closer and add to the passionate depth of their relationship. By line twenty, the speaker once again ponders why Imperialist conduct so much research for a certain portrait, “…when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank…” (lines 20-21) Basically, the speaker introduces the idea that the people depicted in a portrait are just as important as the portrait’s setting and environment; in fact, these objects convey a deeper connection between those viewing the portrait than all of the research conducted.

The final shift occurs in the last two lines of the poem and collectively, they express one of the speaker’s motives in writing the poem, which could be that he is not going to allow himself to miss the beauty in a painting or in life by not incorporating passion between two individuals; the speaker also encourages the readers to do the same. The tone in the last two lines are a bit forceful, which indicates the speaker’s desire to have his point understood and to not allow himself or the readers be “…cheated of some marvelous experience…”(line 24), just as many painters like Marino Marini were “…when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully as the horse…” (lines 22-23) In addition, it can also be assumed that based on the speaker’s powerful tone, especially in the last line of the poem: “which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it…” (line 25) implies that someone who does not notice the importance individuals contribute to a portrait, is making the same mistakes that an artist does by not incorporating or giving enough depth to the people involved in a portrait.

The poem, Having a Coke with You by Frank O’Hara, emphasizes the importance of involving various ideas and people into a portrait because of the depth and sensation they will convey to the viewers as a whole. The speaker began the poem by stating how crucially he desires to interact with his lover on a basic and common level, such as drinking a coke, rather than viewing art that lacks passion. The speaker then continues by implying how passion creates a certain personal connection amongst the people involved. Overall, the love and passion two people share, surpasses any artistic creation that focuses solely on the factual background of a portrait because genuine love conveys a connection with the viewers in a more realistic and personal manner.

Cynthia R said...

In his poem, “Having a Coke with You”, Frank O’Hara conveys the idea that when you have the one you love by your side, you need nothing else. He accomplishes this through his use of repetition, his use of second person point of view, and most importantly, his references to works of art and Europe.

Although a minimal part of the poem, the repetition of the line, “partly because”, adds to the reader’s understanding of the poem’s meaning. In the poem, the speaker gives the reasons why he loves the other person and why “having a coke” with that person is better than many other options. By repeating the line “partly because”, the speaker explains the different aspects that make him love the person and places an emphasis on those aspects. Whether it is the person’s orange shirt, the secrecy of their smiles, or just their love, the use of repetition drives home the idea that it is the combination of all the little things that make the love interest worth it all.

The use of the second person point of view throughout the entire poem makes it more personal which adds to the meaning of love. O’Hara starts using second person point of view from the very beginning when he entitles the poem “Having a Coke with You.” He could have easily entitled the poem, “Having a Coke with insert name here” or “Having a Coke with My Love.” Instead of making the object of affection specific, the speaker simply says, you (the reader). In doing so, the speaker connects to the reader better and includes him in the text. The reader can then think of his own object of affection and imagine the poem being said to him by the one he loves. The poem then continues to address the reader throughout the poem. At the end, the speaker even says, “it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience/ which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it.” By saying this, the speaker is making it clear that he is not just writing a poem. But he is talking directly to you, the reader.

Possibly the most important aspects of the poem are the references to the works of art an
the landscapes of Europe. The speaker begins the poem by saying that sharing a moment with you “is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irun, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne/ or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona.” By saying that you are better than these places, the speaker implies that you are special. Even if the reader does not know where these places are or does not know of the beauty of these places, it can be inferred by the text. The speaker also makes references to works of art such as the Polish Rider and Nude Descending a Staircase. Once again, it is not imperative to be familiar with these pieces of art to understand that you are being compared to a work of art, and more importantly, you are being told that you are better than seeing these works of art. Of course these are compliments and they definitely work towards conveying the idea that being with the one you love is better than anything else. The speaker says that the would rather be with you than see any other work of art except for Polish Rider, which he would like to share with you. This shows that even though there is one work of art out there that might compare to you, the speaker wants to share the experience of seeing it with, again, because he cares. Later in the poem, the speaker mentions how certain works of art are not that great because “they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank/or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully/as the horse.” This implies that as great as something may be, it is useless without the right person.

Overall, O’Hara does a great job of conveying the meaning of his poem, which is that sharing a simple moment with the one you love is better than anything else. He accomplishes this through his use of repetition, second person point of view, and references to works of art and places in Europe, throughout his poem “Sharing a Coke with You.”

Andy V. said...

The Experience Outside of Portraits

Sometimes life cannot be fully described in portraits, statues, and pieces of art. In the poem “Having a Coke with You,” the author Frank O’hara suggests that the reader should look for the full experience of life by finding someone to love. O’hara creates this meaning by his descriptive diction, comparisons, and making connections with artists and pieces of art in the world.

O’hara uses descriptive diction to describe speaker’s love for his significant other to show the experience the speaker have by being with her. In the first stanza, the speaker describes why he would rather have a coke with his significant other rather than traveling to interesting cities in the world. O’hara uses words that describe the girl in a positive and bright way. The speaker says that part of the reason he would rather spend time with her rather than traveling is “because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian.”(Line 3) The use of the word “orange” and “happier” makes the reader see that the girl allows the speaker to have a brighter day just by being with her. The speaker describes his love as someone who “move so beautifully,” (Line 17) which gives the image of graceful and beautiful woman. The choice of words to describes the speaker’s love as a breath of fresh air that brightens the speaker’s life.

O’hara also uses comparisons between the pieces of art to the speaker’s love to show what affect the girl can give to the speaker, which the piece of art cannot. The speaker describes “the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint.” (Line 11) Pieces of arts like portraits cannot give the same affect as a real human. O’hara shows the comparison between the girl and portraits that the speaker calls “paint” to show that the speaker love is much more than a piece of art. O’hara included in his poem how the woman “move so beautifully,” (Line 17) which is something that statues cannot do. O’hara creates comparisons between the still and lifeless pieces of art that are in the end “just paint,” to the lively and real human that gives much more to the speaker than piece of art could do.

Lastly, O’hara makes connections to pieces of art to show the missing experience that the piece of art gives. O’hara includes pieces of art such as the “Nude Descending a Staircase” or the “Horseman” which is lacking the human image in pieces of art. The piece of art cannot give the experience that another human can give. The “single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo” (Line 19) cannot “wow” the speaker anymore compared to his significant other. O’hara also picks fun at the ability of the Impressionists when they don’t have the “right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank” (Line 21). When these pieces of art lack the human image it needs, it is “cheated of some marvelous experience.” (Line 24) Using examples of art that is missing the human image is missing an experience that is important to life.

Frank O’hara gives the message in the poem that people should fully experience life by finding love with another person. He uses the diction of bright and happy images to describe the speakers love and her ability to brighten his day by just simply drinking Coke with him. O’hara also compared the speaker’s significant other to art to show that the speaker’s love is able to give an experience that art cannot give. Lastly, O’hara describes pieces of art that lack the human image and because of that, the art is lacking something incredible. In the end, without being in love with someone, people are lacking an amazing experience that cannot be painted.

Jenny L said...

Having a Coke with You- Frank O’Hara

Regardless of all the lavish ways to express love, whether it be visiting the most dazzlingly romantic places or seeing the most spectacular of art works, in the end love can be felt through something as simple as “having a coke” with one’s significant other. Frank O’Hara’s Having a Coke with You tries to capture the simplicity of love and the ungraspable moments in life through the use of an unconventional structure, imagery created from his descriptive diction and simplicities in life that can be relatable to all. He contrasts the extravagant with the simple to show that love is not measured in luxury but in moments shared and created. The poem takes on a personal reminiscent tone that secludes the speaker with the love that he addresses.

O’Hara exemplifies the inexplicability of love through his untraditional structure.
Wasting no time, he begins his poem from the title and continues it through a constant flow of words. He forgoes all punctuations, with the exception of commas, and all limits that are conventional in writing. In doing so, he is able to create a flow of words, though irrational as it may seem, that captures the precious moments shared between two lovers such as the “warm New York 4 o’clock light drifting back and forth between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles.” The unconventional structure of the poem creates a stream of consciousness narrative that wonders from images of picturesque “San Sebastian, Irùn, Hendaye, Biarritz, [and] Bayonne” to “drawing[s] of Leonardo or Michelangelo.” O’Hara exudes a sense of casualty and informality that contrasts the extravagance of the places and masterpieces he mentions in the poem. He does not separate the beginning and end of his ideas by refusing to incorporate periods and through such a subtle change to the norm, O’Hara is able to convey the irrationality of love, as one cannot explain it through words, but rather experiences and relatable comparisons.

O’Hara takes a simple, and what many may deem as casual and unromantic action to transform it into to the epitome of romance that is more sentimental than “going to San Sebastian, Irun, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne…or the Traversera de Gracia in Barcelona.” The beauty of even the most captivating of places lacks in comparison, as O’Hara declares, “partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches [and] partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people.” Though the places he describes brings images of beauty to mind, O’Hara contrasts the beauty of visiting such exciting places with more personal images that radiates warmth. The images created by the mention of great landscape and revered paintings only triggers awe but the images of “orange shirt…yoghurt…fluorescent orange tulips… [and] smiles” bring about a feeling of affection created through personal experiences. The choice of the color orange adds to the feeling of warmth one feels in the presence of love as well.

O’Hara places a break in his poem as the speaker shifts from trying to capture the reason and the essence of his love to showing the emptiness of life without the ability to experience each moment with a loved one. The paintings he describes is a blur as they all “seem to have no faces in it at all, just paint and [one] suddenly” sees the detachment of such pieces to human emotions. In many ways, O’Hara mocks the optimism and lack of intimacy in “masterpieces” as he believes that it is more sufficient to “[look] at [the one you love] than all the portraits in the world.” He incorporates a playful tone as well to show the true simplicity of love as he mentions that the leading artists “Leonardo [and] Michelangelo” failed to experience with “the right person” the simple moments in life such as “stand[ing] near [a] tree when the sun sank.” He refuses to be “cheated of some marvelous experience” of love, “which is why [he] is telling [his lover]” his feelings through the words of O’Hara’s poem.

O’Hara calls for the appreciation of life’s simplicities in, Having a Coke with You as he reflects upon personal experiences that bring feeling to the poem unlike the art and places he mentions which both lacks sentimentality. In one continuous and never seizing flow of words, Frank O’Hara proclaims that love, the four letter, somewhat overrated human emotion does not need the presence of beauty found in art or places to be experienced but rather it is adequate to just spend time doing something so banal as “having a coke” together.

Mary N. said...

The Good Things in Life

In “Having a Coke with You,” Frank O’Hara suggests that society gets too caught up in the extravagance and luxury of life that people are often unappreciative of the little aspects that go unnoticed. Through the contrast of everyday objects and activities to lavish items, the poet successfully stresses that the best experience in life is to live truly with a loved one by your side rather than to live pretentiously.

In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker expresses his feelings to a certain “you,” stating his preference for the everyday action over the luxurious experience. For example, the title itself, “Having a Coke with You” demonstrates a common activity that occurs so often that no one thinks of it as being “special.” Its thought continues into the first line of the poem; “[Having a coke with you] is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne…” (O’Hara). These foreign places would be a luxury to visit if one could afford to. Yet, the speaker would rather share a coke with his companion than have the opportunity to travel, as he valued the company of his lover more than extravagance. In addition, the descriptive manner in which the speaker describes ordinary objects in the first stanza adds to the necessary appreciation for them. “The fluorescent orange tulips” and “the secrecy [of] our smiles” highlight the beauty of the glowing and mysterious usualness surrounding society that one would not think twice about unless their beauties were revealed. Here, O’Hara brings up the idea that sharing an everyday activity with a companion is much more desirable than having an extravagant trip.

The second stanza consists of two lines that mark a shift in the poem. The speaker switches from talking about tulips, smiles, and cokes to portraits that reflect no faces but merely paint. With this stanza, O’Hara shows society that portraits, which symbolize luxury and wealth, prove to be insignificant as they do not show the true faces of people. The speaker states that “you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them.” The verb “did” contrasts with the verb “painted;” If O’Hara has written “painted,” one would have taken the sentence literally. However, the chosen verb “did” implies that the person the speaker is addressing questions why anyone tries to hide behind materialistic values, which, in this, case is symbolized by paint. The speaker then concludes the second stanza with the statement, “I look.” The final two words in the stanza suggest that the speaker is analyzing the question that his companion introduced, which results in the third stanza of the poem.

In the third stanza, O’Hara further contrasts everyday occurrences with false happiness in luxury items. The speaker states the he “would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world,” which reflects back to the very first line of the poem. They both carry the same meaning; the speaker appreciates an aspect he sees daily in his life more than extravagant items and trips, which allow society to put on a façade and to forget to appreciate life’s little pleasures. He states that since his companion naturally moves so beautifully anyways, he did not need to look at Futuristic works, which symbolize luxurious items, to find appreciation for beauty. In addition, “…at home [he] never [thinks] of the Nude Descending a Staircase,” which suggests that when the speaker is not in public, he does not need to put on a façade by pretending he is extravagant. Furthermore, the speaker explains how if one does not have the right person by one’s side to share life with, then even the most beautiful work means nothing.

Through descriptive contrast, Frank O’Hara succeeds in communicating the idea that society wastes life by chasing after luxury and extravagance when the most beautiful experience consists of all the everyday activities and people surrounding them. Therefore, “…they [are] cheated of some marvelous experience.”

Kristen W. said...

“Having a Coke with You” Explication

In the poem, “Having a Coke with You,” Frank O’Hara demonstrates the idea of true love through the use of references to art and foreign lands, dragged out tone and sentences, and descriptive diction. O’Hara uses these techniques to show that true love is the object of his desire and is not willing to let it pass by him. The poet uses these unique methods in a way that is also easy to understand and completely connects with the title itself. The overall message of this poem is that love possesses a power to withstand even the temptations of beautiful places, and even the most enhanced and brilliant art on the planet.

Throughout the poem, Frank O’Hara demonstrates his knowledge of foreign lands and cultures. He begins his poem with this line, “is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne”. This immediately introduces beautiful places around the world. As the poem persists, the poet continues to state that something is more fun and beautiful then anything in the world. That something is love. O’Hara also shows his knowledge of the arts. He writes, “I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world.” After that, he begins to name pieces of artwork and their artist. This provides an enhanced effect upon the reader. It gives imagery so that the reader can actually think of just how beautiful the work is, yet remember that the narrator’s love is stronger. This is where the title comes into mind. Sharing a beverage is part of a date of some sort, which provides evidence that the narrator is indeed comparing all of these places and artwork to his love for another.

Immediately while reading this a first time, it is obvious that very little punctuation is used and the sentences seem to just drag on. This technique brings up the idea of a stream of conscious narration. It is the thoughts of someone flowing out of their heart without the need or care for grammar. The listening of this poem adds emphasis to the dragged on type of tone. The poet speaks as if just thinking it off the top of his mind, like a diary of some sort. The effect that this has may be minor, but is very import. It shows the aspect that the love is true, rather than something just made up. It came from the heart and the grammar just was unnecessary to just get the point across. The tone and manner that the poem is presented shows that the idea of true love is something important to the narrator and is something that he can talk a lot about without needing to stop, even for punctuation.

Diction is a major technique that O’Hara uses to get his point across about true love and not letting it get by. He uses many descriptive words to describe the affection of the love. He uses words such as “fluorescent orange” and “secrecy smiles” to show the true brightness and care that his love contains. These words not only characterize the love and affection, but bring together imagery as well. The use of colors and smiles paint a picture that affects readers of all ages. The diction used by Frank O’Hara is not only descriptive, but fairly simple as well. He uses easy to understand language that helps the overall connection between the narrator and the reader. This connection leads to trust, allowing what the narrator has to say to be listened to by the reader. The soft-spoken words add to the idea that love beside all is most important.

In the poem “Having a Coke with You,” Frank O’Hara uses different and unique techniques to keep his idea that love is the narrators choice overall in the reader’s mind. With his knowledge, diction, and lack of punctuation O’Hara captures the reader’s mind and expresses his love above all else.

Kayla P said...

In “Having a Coke with You,” Frank O’Hara suggests that little things in life, no matter how simple, can all add up to something bigger, and more important. He creates this meaning through enjambment, simple; yet flowing diction, and his use of second person dialect.

In the first stanza, O’Hara jumps directly from the title into the poem. This gives the sense of a regular conversation. In speech, people don’t title what they are talking about, and then begin to talk about it. Instead, they start with one piece of conversation, and carry on with it. The speaker then begins to talk about how he would give up all these things, just to have a Coke with his lover. To get his point across, he talks about all the places he COULD go, but instead would rather be with drinking a Coke. By not using punctuation, a flow develops, much like conversation. In line 3-6, the speaker mentions that he would give up all these things “partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian/ partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt/ partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches/ partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary.” This diction, which seems simple during the first read through, actually begins to take on a deeper meaning when looked at more closely. Though it seems like a straightforward piece of conversation, the speaker actually managed to incorporate many of the aspects which are part of being in love, yet ones that are rarely mentioned. When people think of being in love, they might say “I love the way we can talk,” and often forget they love you “because of your love for yoghurt.” By adding in this seemingly effortless piece of dialogue, O’Hara manages to capture the essence of love, and how it is made up of many simple things, rather than the bigger ones people pay more attention to.

A shift seems to take place in the seventh line, when the speaker begins to examine the time he and his lover spend together, wondering at the possibility of there being anything unpleasant in the outside world. He Through his use of enjambment, O’Hara keeps up the sense of a flowing dialogue, typical of close friends, or those who are in love. Yet again, his seemingly simple diction is really a closer look into the human mind. People may think these thoughts, yet hardly voice them. O’Hara does it naturally though, keeping up the look of simplicity.

In the beginning of the second stanza, the speaker begins to note the art he and his lover are viewing. Most people have been to a museum, so it is something one can relate to. The speaker mentions that “the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint/ you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them.” This plain mentioning of what his lover is feeling adds to the closeness in their relationship, created from the many simple things they do together. Beginning with line 13, and continuing to the end, the speaker goes on a free flow of thought. This creates the sense of simplicity that is present in his relationship, one in which they feel comfortable enough to speak to each other in such a way. The paintings, which are grand, seem to pale next to his lover, even though she (he?) is so ordinary. Line 17 can be read in two ways, since punctuation has been omitted. “The fact that you move so beautifully, more or less, takes care of Futurism,” or “The fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism.” In the first, he is saying that his lover moves beautifully, more or less. And in the second he is saying her beautiful moves take care of Futurism, more or less. Looking at how he has been talking about her before, it could fit in either way. This double meaning lets O’Hara show how simplicity could be understood in many ways, or be found in many forms.
In the last two lines, there is one final shift, where the speaker, still employing the use of enjambment, wraps up his thoughts. Just like a real conversation, when you’ve gone on for a bit and seem to be rambling, and you have to make a final point and draw everyone back in, this is what he does. It’s like a ‘sorry I mentioned all of this, but this is why I feel this way, and this is why I told you.’ By doing this he recreates that feeling of a one on one conversation

Simplicity is often overlooked, but with his casual diction, enjambment, and use of second person dialogues, O’Hara shows the reader that the little things are a big deal.

Vanessa G. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tzivia H said...

Frank O’Hara, author of “Having a Coke with You,” creates a poem that presents a whimsical testament to love. Through his at times conversational, at times irreverent, at times philosophical tone, second person point of view, art imagery, and juxtapositions, O’Hara creates a love poem that both affirms the speaker’s love interest and suggests that love is something to be physically experienced rather than dissected in an artistic forum.

Within the first shift, O’Hara affirms the positives of the speaker’s love interest through comparisons to other entities, in which the love is still more appealing. Second person point of view is established very early on, from the title of the poem- “Having a Coke with You” which also becomes the continuation of the first line. The use of the second person in conjunction with first person suggests its purpose as a love poem, to a particular person. The use of second person gave the poem a more personal purpose; rather than simply writing to enlighten about love, O’Hara’s speaker seemed to write to a love- “you,” being motivated “partly because of my love for you” (line 4). After establishing a purpose for the piece, O’Hara went on to describe the ambiguous “you” in an affirmative light through comparisons to other places and things. In the very first line, O’Hara writes that even something as simple as drinking a coke with the speaker’s love is more enjoyable than “going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona” (lines 1-2). O’Hara juxtaposes “you” against beautiful, exotic places but still conceded that the love interest was preferred. O’Hara goes on to juxtapose the love interest with the statues around New York- and how her appeal grew in comparison, noting that “it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary” (lines 7-8).

Lines 11-23, mark a new shift in the poem in which O’Hara uses examples of different artistic pieces to reject the extraneous fanfare of love. O’Hara’s tone shifts from predominantly conversational in nature to irreverent as he begins his discussion of different artistic works. Rather than praising them, O’Hara questions the very motivations behind portraits- noting that he “suddenly wonder[s] why in the world anyone ever did them” (line 12). He continues the artistic imagery, describing the “Polish Rider,” “Nude Descending Down a Staircase,” and futurism in general while nonetheless conceding that he “would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world” (line 16). And similarly, questions the “research” (line 20) behind Impressionists’ work, noting that it is that very calculating aspect of art that detracts from its representing true love. Through such imagery, O’Hara asserts that in trying to display such acts, the artists are losing the meaning and beauty behind it.

The final shift occurs in the last two lines of the poem, at which point O’Hara concedes that any such fanfare ruins the true experience of love. O’Hara’s tone shifts once more and he becomes both philosophical while simultaneously somber. He writes, “it seems they were all cheated of some marvellous experience,” referring to the artists (line 23). O’Hara continues the idea established in the previous shift, that the art that attempted to convey love in actuality thwarted the artists’ ability to experience it. However, the last shift especially through the change in tone allowed O’Hara to be more clear on his discussion of love’s fanfare, that such complexities detract and even ruin potential for real love, rather than simply being extraneous. In this way, O’Hara prods the reader not to become mired in unnecessary shows of love but rather opts to love and to love simply.

Vanessa G. said...

In Frank O'Hara's “Having a Coke With You”, the speaker of the poem takes the reader into a journey of love through art, in which the purpose of the the poem is conveyed. Frank O'Hara's speaker of the poem uses allusion, aesthetic imagery, and first and second person point of view to bring out the the theme, which is how the everyday things in life can be utilized to express deep emotions, in this case of the speaker.

The speaker of the poem uses allusion in a sense to apply emphasis on his love for this special person in his life. These references to certain paintings, statues, and artists are meant to demonstrate how the simple, everyday things can be compared to such a complex sentiment of love. The art references of the poem are compared to love and it shows how significant these allusions are to him. He mentions specific titles, stating that the person he is writing about possesses greater beauty than most paintings. It's coincidental and interesting how he rather chooses to write “just as at home i would never think about The Nude Descending a Staircase”. This line seems to have a deeper meaning because the title of the portrait itself is a method in representing that he only has eyes and respect for this special person and that he wouldn't take a moment, even while away from her, to imagine “the nude” walking down the stairs. He would not hinder to worldly temptations such as this. It is also possible that certain allusions that he makes are references to other women that he used to occasionally notice. “ a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo and Michelangelo that used to wow me”. This again, is the comparison of the simple, everyday things in life. This quote and also the previous one link together because they express similar meanings of how deep he is in love.

Another technique O'Hara uses is the imagery that the words of the speaker reveal and create in the mind of the reader. The speaker mentions “orange” in the first couple of lines in the poem. This bright, burst of color is not a usual term to describe love, but instead, it is used vibrantly, to insinuate how much joy it is to be in love with this person. The speaker's allusion to the “Polish Rider” furthers this idea because the horseman is wearing orange. It is questionable why the speaker chose not to utilize “red” as the descriptive words because the color red is the most commonly used term when describing love and passion. But, the speaker says, “I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally”. As he uses “except” to break off his feelings, it demonstrates the limits that he has for this woman, which is evidence to as why he did not use red, but instead orange, a relatively close tint. The title, which is also significant, though it is somewhat irrelevant to the comparisons, holds greater meaning to the subject of love. Sharing a coke with someone is a type of communion, which deepens the sense of comfort and simplicity the author attempts and succeeds in conveying in the poem.

Finally, the speaker invites the reader to personally feel what he feels, using second person point of view, on a sentimental journey through art. In almost every line of the poem, the speaker says “you or your”, referring to the woman he loves. This point of view makes the meaning of the poem all that more obvious and relateable. Though at times he is not specific to the particular person he is talking about, the “subject” is left broad and open to whomever. He uses “you and your” as a method to make the purpose of the poem more engaging for the reader. The reader can imagine himself in the location of the “yous” in the poem, a technique O'Hara uses so the reader can see through the mind of the speaker, also known as stream-of-consciousness. First person is also used in the poem, referring to himself and at times inclusive of the woman. But, at the same time, the speaker closes this broadened opening as he says, “thank heavens you haven't gone yet so we can go together for the first time”. He uses both point of views in the same sentence. This line also enables the reader to experience the emotions the speaker is feeling.

Henceforth, Frank O'Hara uses aesthetic allusions, colorful imagery, and stream-of-consciousness of first and second person, to convey his theme of how the simplicities of everyday life, art and unyielding to temptation, can be compared to the most complex, yet also simple, emotions of love in “Having a Coke With You”.

emily said...
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emily said...

In his poem “Having a Coke with You,” Frank O’Hara addresses the superfluousness of one’s surroundings when in love, and more specifically the superficiality of art in comparison to love. He does this by using a first person point of view, stream of consciousness style, and incorporating specific references and personal stories into his poem.

Because of the first person perspective used throughout the poem, the reader is able to see the work as a personal experience for the speaker; the fact that the speaker addresses the reader as “you” implies that the poem was written for the speaker’s lover. In the first stanza, the speaker of begins by discussing things he has done that are less meaningful to him than drinking Coca-Cola with his lover- for example, “going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne.” This immediately sets up the speaker’s idea that love can make simplicity far more enjoyable; the events that take place in the world around him are less relevant than simply spending time with the person whom he loves. He continues this idea later in the stanza, when he talks about “the secrecy our smiles take on before people;” the speakers is clearly conveying that two people are surrounded by others but are still sharing a private moment unbeknownst to everyone around them.

The style in which the poem is written adds to the idea the poet is trying to convey; the seeming lack of structure to the poem disregards societal conventions. In doing so the poet parallels the isolation lovers feel with the structure of the

In the second stanza, the author discusses the second part of his theme; how art can never really capture the gravity of love. The speaker implies that after experiencing real love, art seems to pale in comparison. From reading the various examples of artwork the speaker references, it appears as though he is very knowledgeable about art; however, he says “I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world.” He also uses the past tense when talking about his appreciation for Michelangelo and Da Vinci-they “used to wow” him, before he experienced love so deeply. Lastly, he states that when he looks at art work he feels as if “it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience,” meaning love. Despite his apparent appreciation for art, it doesn’t even come close to his appreciation for true love.

In conveying these themes, the poet urges readers not to fall victim to the unnecessarily complex symbols of love by showing them how real love is greater than any physical manifestation of it.

Matt Z! said...

The Proof Is In The Pudding... Or In This Case, The Coke

In the poem “Having a Coke With You”, author Frank O’Hara demonstrates to the reader that true love is one of, if not the greatest, of all life’s treasures. He does so through a stark contrast between the mundane and the exceptional, interesting enjambment and lack of punctuation, and an unnamed speaker who addresses another unnamed individual.

This poem attests to the powerful emotions that one experiences when he or she is in the presence of somebody with whom they are in love. The speaker of the poem, an unknown and unnamed individual, describes these feelings by displaying them in mundane situations, and then accentuating them against exceptional circumstances that they ironically overshadow. The technique is evident in the very first line of the poem, which is a continuation of the line that is the title of the poem. The speaker states that drinking a Coke is “even more fun than going to . . .” (line 1), and then continues on to list no less than 6 exotic and exciting travel destinations. The irony set up by this simple statement is amplified by the fact that these exotic locations fail to arouse as much excitement as drinking a Coke- an extremely common and relatively cheap beverage- with a loved one. Similarly, this statement is continued with descriptions of this individual, who has only been defined thus far as “you”. The speaker describes both an “orange shirt” (line 3) and “fluorescent orange tulips” (line 5), saying that these objects are “partly” the reason why his initial statement holds true. These objects, a shirt and some tulips, are also exceedingly common, but the speaker emphasizes their importance with the description of their interesting orange color. The color orange, in itself, is a vibrant color- full of life, energy, excitement, and warmth. These associations with the color orange are symbolic of the way one feels when one is enamored with someone else. The comparison is drawn between whoever the “you” is, and the shirt and tulips, when one realizes that just like these seemingly mundane objects, the person of discussion crosses the boundary from ordinary to extraordinary due to her energetic eminence and the impact it has on the speaker, much like the color orange.

The extraordinary nature of the mysterious “you” mentioned in the poem is also revealed by the authors interesting use of enjambment. The total lack of sentence-ending punctuation would make the poem read like one entirely run-on sentence, if it were not for the interesting line breaks that the author uses to show where certain thoughts end, as well as to give added emphasis to certain points. The only break between the two stanzas of this poem occurs when the setting shifts from a relatively indistinct setting to one that is more concrete, preceded by an interjecting “and”. The speaker of the poem, and their beloved, are suddenly at a “portrait show” (line 11), where the paintings seem “to have no faces . . . At all, just paint.” (line 11) The line then breaks, demonstrating the interjection of “your” questioning of “why in the world anyone ever did them” (line 11). This hints that the paintings, although beautiful, pale in comparison to the beauty and radiance of “you”. The next line, containing only the two words, “I look”, give this action a dramatic flair that sets up the next line, which serves as a revelation of sorts. Following this line, the speaker says that he would rather look upon whoever “you” is “than all the portraits in the world” (line 13). This declaration is expressed in its entirety, completely devoid of punctuation, in one long line. This gives to the reader the familiar rush of emotions that accompanies the sight of a loved one.

Finally, the speaker of the poem speaks in a first-person narrative towards an unknown individual who is addressed in the second-person. This choice of perspective allows the poem to read like it is a love note directed towards the reader themself. Constant repetition of the indistinct “you” throughout the poem creates a void which the reader, themself, fills. This makes the reader both consciously identify with the unnamed person mentioned, as well as sympathize with the speaker of the poem (who addresses themself only as “I”) on both a conscious and subconscious level. Indeed, the mere fact that the poem uses nothing but “you” and “I” to describe the characters within it creates a dual meaning- one in which the reader can identify as the “you” mentioned in the poem, and another where the reader identifies with the “I”, making the poem much more personal as it appears to be speaking from of the reader, instead of to him or her.

Through the poem “Having a Coke With You”, author Frank O’Hara shows that true love is one of the most captivating and wonderful things on the planet. Through ironic comparisons, enjambment, lack of punctuation, and perspective, he shows that true love can outshine the most dazzling of spectacles, even if the love is cloaked in the most mundane setting.

Mario P. said...
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Mario P. said...

Having a Coke with You
In Frank O’Hara’s poem “Having a Coke with you,” a message saying that love is more incredible than a beautiful city in Spain, or the greatest collection of art work, except possibly the Polish Rider is given. O’Hara does this through his use of repetition, lack of punctuation, as well as hyperboles and similes.

The most noticeable thing about O’Hara’s poem is its clear lack of punctuation. Where there should be commas, periods, or semicolons there are nothing. This gives the poem the feel of a continuous though. The affect of someone rambling over the phone to another is conveyed. It is almost as if all the ideas of the poem are a random burst of emotion from the poet.

Second to the punctuation, the use of repetition is very apparent. O’Hara uses the repetition of the phrase “partly because” to create a list, a catalogue of reasons as to why having a Coke with his lover is greater than almost everything else. The first line gives a list of beautiful cities in the country of Spain. The third to sixth lines of the poem lists details of his love. The buildup of details and rhythm shows how sincere the speaker of the poem is in all that he is saying.

There is saying that goes, “Love is blind.” O’Hara seems to toy around with the idea, saying that love may be blind, but it is worth never seeing anything again. The speaker hints towards a secret relationship with his lover stating, “The secrecy our smiles take on before people.”(Line 6) This state of being causes the speaker to wonder how anyone could possibly live without love. At a portrait show, he sees “no faces . . . just paint,” (Line 11) and turns to his lover and says “I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world.” The speaker chooses to say this to express their love to their partner, summing it up in the poems last two lines saying that people are cheated out of this experience, but he will not.

“Having a Coke with you” does an amazing job of creating an atmosphere created by two lovers on a simple date. Although they are not viewing Spain’s most beautiful cities, or appreciating the world’s most wonderful art, the fact that the speaker has his lover is enough. With its stream of consciousness writing style, mixed with the details listed it is clear that love is the main subject in this poem and the speaker believes anyone who does not experiences is cheated because of it.

Stephen said...

"Having a Coke with You" Explication

The speaker in the poem, “Having A Coke With You,” remarks to his lover that the simpler pleasures in life are far more preferable to exoticism and complexity. The poet contrasts complexity and simplicity, and glamorous places and humble responses by using repetition, stream of consciousness point of view, and juxtaposition of contrasts to create meaning.

First of all, the speaker lists many locations, to show how “drinking a coke with you is even more fun than” (line 1) visiting these exotic locales. These locations are towns in France, Spain, Puerto Rico, and other parts of the world. Immediately following, the speaker uses repetition. Looking at the poem, the speaker is listing reasons why it is more preferable to drink coke with his lover. The reasons include his approval of his lover’s “orange shirt,” (line 3) the beauty of the “fluorescent orange tulips around the birches” (line 5), and because of “[his] love for [his lover]” (line 4). After listing exciting European towns where they could be enjoying, the speaker lists simple reasons for staying and enjoying the moment. The poet’s use of repetition of “partly because” enhances the rather humble nature of the reasons why the speaker wants to stay and drink Coke. The juxtaposition of one behind the other enhances the theme of ‘humble versus glamorous.’

The speaker then contrasts their orientations with that of statues. He metaphorically describes them both “drifting back and forth between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles” (lines 9-10) in the “warm New York 4 o’clock light” (line 9). He uses words like “solemn” and “unpleasantly definitive” (line 8) to describe statues. The poet’s choice of the image of a statue compared with swaying trees is deliberate. Statues connote beauty, perfection, coldness, and hardness, while trees connote warmth, flexibility, and safety (the shade of a tree provides shelter). By comparing these two images and associating the couple with the image of swaying trees, the poet hopes to convey the same associations that trees share with this couple’s relationship, while disassociating the couple from the ideas surfaced by the statue: glamour and perfection, yet hollowness as well.

The second stanza marks a clear transition. Here, the speaker inadvertently displays his familiarity and connection with art while talking about how his lover is more beautiful than the artwork. The poet employs a stream of consciousness style in this section to highlight the rambling thoughts of the speaker as he goes from one idea and one painting to another. Due to little hints dropped by the poet that reveal something about the speaker, such as the man looking at the painting Polish Rider “occasionally,” (line 15) and “think[ing] of the Nude Descending a Staircase” (Line 18) and being “wow[ed]” a drawing by Leonardo or Michelangelo, the reader can see that the speaker is a contemplator of art, a person who takes the time “occasionally” to be “wowed” by paintings. The stream of consciousness style allows the poet to show the speaker’s passion for art. Interestingly, the speaker says to his lover that “I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world,” (line 14) despite his love of art, and that he is not going to waste the “marvelous experience” (line 23) of drinking coke with her. The last two lines trivialize the artwork described so passionately by the speaker. In the end, the speaker indicates a willingness to forego art in favor of having a coke with his lover. The long and rambling section revealing the speaker’s interest in art is contrasted with a short passage declaring the speaker’s intention to continue with the simple act of drinking coke. The length of the former passage and the succinctness of the latter passage further emphasize the idea of complexity versus simplicity in a very visual way.

This poem is a study in contrasts. The speaker compares going to exotic places to the modest reasons explaining why he is staying. The speaker compares his relationship with his lover to that of an image of bending trees, and not solid statues. Finally, he demonstrates his passion for art while at the same time rejecting it. The poet employs certain techniques, such as repetition and stream of consciousness for their effect in conveying these basic themes of complexity versus simplicity, and the exotic versus the humble. All to emphasize the simplicity of having a coke with his lover outdoors.

Mels1619 said...

"Having a coke with you" -Frank O'Hara

In the poem, “Having a coke with you”, the poet Frank O’Hara suggests that nothing can compare to true love, society often gets caught up with luxury and let the simple details aside. He creates this idea by the use of comparison, repetition, and references to famous and beautiful places and art work.

The beginning of the poem hints to the reader the main idea; the reader automatically knows that the poem is being dedicated to a special someone. The speaker begins by comparing his lover to foreign lands; “[Having a coke with you] is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne”, which demonstrates that having a simple coke with the one you love can be more beautiful than being in other places. Nothing can compare to it. The effect of comparison helps the poem be more meaningful. It creates a romantic scene between the speaker and his lover, in which the reader can relate to.

The use of repetition, even though is a small portion just like the use of comparison, creates an important meaning in the poem. The speaker repeats “partly because…” various times to mention the reasons why he loves his lover. The reasons the speaker gives might not be the best ones, they are simple but carry a special meaning. The speaker explains how small details such as an “orange shirt” and “[her] love for yoghurt” are some of the aspects of he is in love. The speaker successfully connects with the reader, since it is known that little details are the ones that make someone fall in love. The use of repetition clarifies the speaker’s message that their love is worth a lot more than fancy things.

Towards the end of the poem, the speaker references to some of the periods of the artistic movement. This plays another important role because the speaker is now comparing his lover to beautiful paintings; “I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally…” The speaker compares his lover to probably his favorite paintings and yet finds a way to make it romantic and simple. The speaker describes his lover in a different way than most people would “…the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism/ just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase”. He often compares her to paintings, which seems to be an important part of the speaker’s live, putting her as high as the famous paintings.

Frank O’Hara uses comparison, repetition, and enjambment to create the idea of true love. O’Hara successfully achieves his message of how simplicity carries a deeper meaning than luxury.

Pretty Lady said...

From Coke to Love

In the poem, "Having a Coke with You" Frank O'Hara demonstrates an ideal love relationship. From a simple gesture as "having a coke" to a more serious sign of love as comparing a loved one to a work of art: "I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world," O'Hara captures the growth and journey of love. Through his use of stream of consciousness, comparison, and his knowledge of art, O'Hara sends the message that being in love starts with simple act and ends with deep, layered feelings.

From the beginning, O'Hara's use of stream of consciousness resembles a stereotypical person in love: rambling on and on about how much "fun" the couple have together and how much they "love" each other. The stream of consciousness also captures the speaker's natural thoughts and his intensity of being in love. The title "Having a coke with You," ties in perfectly with the opening lines, "is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne." The first use of stream of consciousness portrays the blindness of the speaker's love; he does not bother to give even an unpretentious introduction, but instead jumps into his feelings about his beloved. Through O'Hara's lack of punctuation throughout the entire poem (the use of four commas in the beginning are exceptional; the entire poem does not have one ending period), he is also able to demonstrate the mind of a person in love. With 101 thoughts running through the lovers' mind, the beginning and end of their thoughts are never separated or distinguished, and no real sense of what was said in between can be made. And lastly, O'Hara skips from topic to topic to develop the stream of consciousness. From an "orange shirt" to "yogurt," from "tulips" to "statuary," and from "Barcelona" to "New York," O'Hara jumps around to resemble the mind of a person in love even more. The lack of attention span diverts a person from speaking in concise, fluent language, and pushes them to speak in jumbled, nonrhythmic bedazzlement. The use of stream of consciousness helps create meaning due to the fact that it portrays a life-like mind of love.

Throughout his poem, O'Hara uses descriptive diction to illustrate his ideas. And the descriptive language is parallel to objects and colors seen in artwork. Using "fluorescent orange tulips," "smiles," "tree," "heavens," and "sun" in the poem, O'Hara is conveying that love is like art--beautiful, enchanting, and mesmerizing. Citing two very contrasting artworks, the "Polish Rider," which portrays a carefully detailed, painted man on a horse, and the "Nude Descending a Staircase," showing a very rough sketch of a man, he draws a line of when love is easily seen, controlled, and young; and when it's an uncontrollable jumble of inexpressible emotions. By mentioning valuable artwork that is known world wide, O'Hara not only portrays the idea that love is priceless, but also that people all around the world deserve a passionate, worthy love relationship. Using art parallel to love shows that in every love relationship, no matter how unclear or strange the couple may appear, like the "Nude Descending a Staircase," they find a common, sane ground, because the couple have love in common--their relationship is clear and in a united front, like the "Polish Rider."

A person in love, like the one in the poem, will compare their love to "fun" events or "beautiful" masterpieces. At this point, the topics are more in depth and remain constant, which represents the growth of the love. The speaker compares his lover's facial beauty to a portrait and realizes that he would rather "look at you than all the portraits in the world," and compares her to the clean, swift art saying that she "move[s] so beautifully" compared to the "Futurism" art style. O'Hara continues comparing the speaker and his lover to famous artists and artwork, such as "Michelangelo" and the "Polish Rider," meaning that the speaker's lover is worth a great amount to him. The comparison of the speaker's lover and art shows that, like with a piece of artwork, the speaker has observed and carefully examined his lover, and has seen the hidden beauty, paid attention to the usual missed details, and knows of the concealed flaws. The use of comparison ties into the meaning O'Hara attempts to get across, in the sense that when people are in love, their love can be compared to something as simple as artwork, yet to the couple in love it has many layers.

Frank O'Hara is ultimately giving the message that love starts with a simple gesture and can end in a complicated, but beautiful ocean of emotions. By comparing art to love O'Hara gives love depth and layers of details and worth. In this poem, the speaker starts with jumping thoughts and inconsistent topics, but in the second half of the poem, the speaker compares his love only to art. This transgression, from jumpy to stable, demonstrates the journey and growth of love--in the beginning emotions run wild, worries of the future and the curiosity of discovering more about the significant other are constant, but as after getting to know the person, a stable, caring relationship flourishes.