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The Day Lady Died

The Day Lady Died


by Frank O'Hara

The Day Lady Died Memory and the Past Quotes

How we cite our quotes: line

Quote #1

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine (lines 1-3)

This poem is all over the place with respect to time. Most of the poem is narrated in the present, but there are odd references to the past, like the remark that it's "three days after Bastille Day."

Quote #2

because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me (lines 4-6)

The poem looks into the future. Still no mention of memory or the deep past. Think about how strange these lines are: this poem is about the death of an artistic hero, and yet the speaker is worried about what he's going to eat.

Quote #3

(first name Linda I once heard) (line 12)

Another stray and seemingly irrelevant reference to the past, which serves to dampen our expectation that we're going to hear anything meaningful about Billie Holiday.

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