Posts Tagged ‘analysis’

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


This poem is whimsically written, but behind the rhetoric, there is some meaning. You can’t keep your kids young forever. Sometimes we have to venture into the wilderness to grow up and find ourselves. This place is the movies. (as it was in the 20’s) in the dark, we are fascinated by the glamour of it all: the moving picture, the salty popcorn, the hidden handhold (or maybe a little more). I remember my first movie date. Our parents dropped us off, but it still felt so grown up to be left alone, to be “on our own”. Sure, mom and dad were just a phone call or a restaurant away, but we felt that “fresh air” O’Hara is talking about. It’s scary to think that by keeping kids home, you risk “the family break[ing] 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”. Going to the movies is necessary. Leaving the nest…it happens. For me, I’m about to “go to the movies” in a big way -college.

I’m confounded by the line: “get them out of the house so they won’t know what you’re up to”…what could mothers of America be up to?


                                                                                   ADAM AND EVE :LOSS OF INNOCENCE


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PIPING down the valleys wild,

Piping songs of peasant glee,

On a cloud I saw a child,

And he, laughing, said to me:  

 ‘Pipe a song about a lamb!’

So I piped with merry cheer.

 ‘Piper, pipe that song again;’

So I piped: he wept to hear.  

‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;

Sing thy songs of happy cheer!’

So I sang the same again,

While he wept with joy to hear.  

 ‘Piper, sit thee down and write

 In a book, that all may read.’

So he vanished from my sight;

And I plucked a hollow reed,  

And I made a rural pen,

And I stain’d the water clear,

 And I wrote my happy songs

Every child may joy to hear.

At first glance, this poem had nursery rhyme resonance for me. It just seemed so happy and joyful that I knew there had to be more meaning behind the words. This piper choses to live life in a way that makes him happy: spread song and joy to all he meets. The special child from a cloud tells the piper to record these songs for every child and in doing so, the piper stains the water clear.We are all sinners. We are all in a sense, stained. We try and cleanse ourselves. The piper says to make ourselves clean by spreading joy and creating. He is creating, with each note, and each letter formed by his pen. This written language units us all as humans. We are all creators, especially in poetry. So life doesn’t suck…that outlook simply taints us more. We create our lives. Sure, we can’t control everything, but we create our world based on our reactions to mishaps. The piper says to reject the belief that everything is out of our hands. We have to power to think, write, create. We make our lives.

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Idealistic Change 


“Emplumada” by Lorna Dee Cervantes

When summer ended the leaves of snapdragons withered taking their shrill-colored mouths with them. They were still, so quiet. They were violet where umber now is. She hated and she hated to see them go. Flowers  born when the weather was good – this she thinks of, watching the branch of peaches daring their ways above the fence, and further, two hummingbirds, hovering, stuck to each other, arcing their bodies in grim determination to find what is good, what is given them to find.

These are warriors  distancing themselves from history. They find peace in the way they contain the wind and are gone. 

“Emplumada” from Emplumada, by Lorna Dee Cervantes, © 1982.

All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.
Source: Emplumada (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982). 


Literally this poem seems to move from winter and death of snapdragons into a reminiscing on life. Although the observer is saddened to see the snapdragons die, she has faith that the curled and shriveled flowers will have rebirth in the spring.  She likes to remember the flowers as they were rather than how they are. The snapdragons were in their environment, with hummingbirds buzzing in harmony and unison. This reminded me of memorial services and funerals in a way, since people often like to remember the departed as they were in life: full of abundance. When someone dies after a chronic illness, no one wants to hear about how weak he/she looked lying in the Hospice bed. I was randomly reading obituaries and found it odd that older people had these pictures next to their names that obviously weren’t picture of their eighty-year-old selves; rather these photos captured the departed in youth and health.

The hummingbirds kind of remind me of what the Tufts interviewer called me: “an idealistic teenager”. I am like the hummingbird, reaching out to “find what is good” in this world. I do distance myself from history-I want newness and change. I’m not sure about the last line though: “They find peace in the way they contain the wind and are gone”. I hope not to ever find peace.

Finding peace can mean being content. I’m Intent on never being satisfied with the way things are.

I’d like to think I’m not completely an idealist “Who goes with the flow and “contains the wind” because that label often conveys naivety. I don’t want to change the world, I am changing the world.  


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