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. “...at 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”.
- Vanessa G.
- Hello everyone! My name is Vanessa. I'm currently in school for my Bachelor's in Social Work with a minor in Juvenile Justice. Life is what we make it so why let "society" ruin it. If you are a part of society and allow it to influence you, this blog is not for you. If not, enjoy reading about hair and products, music, society, relationships, and anything else I can think of.