The Day Lady Died
by Frank O'Hara
The Day Lady Died Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes: line
three days after Bastille day, yes (line 2)
This off-handed remark about Bastille Day is the first indication that our speaker is a serious Francophile (he likes the French).
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days (lines 9-10)
Post-colonial literature, particularly African literature, was all the rage in European intellectuals circles in the 1950s. French writers like Jean-Paul Sartre were instrumental in bringing African writers to the attention of the world. The speaker feels confident (arrogant?) enough about his tastes that he can mock one of the most respected literary journals as "ugly."
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness (lines 13-19)
Notice how the speaker never really sounds too excited about art, even though he knows a ton about it? He's always slightly jaded, and in these lines he almost puts himself to sleep. For the average reader, these lines probably sound like a blizzard of unfamiliar names, but they reveal the speaker's deep knowledge of 1950s cultural life.