When the Lines Are Good Enough

frank

It is well known that some poems enchant you so much you have to read again. And again. And again, kind of like savoring a fine wine with the tongue.

Less known, maybe, is when the same thing happens with a few lines. You read them and are willing to stop reading the poem, back up, and read the lines and the lines only again. And again. And again, kind of like savoring a tall glass of cold water on a blazing summer’s day.

I got that feeling when reading Frank O’Hara last night. These opening lines:

It seems far away and gentle now
the morning miseries of childhood
and its raining calms over the schools

The first of six stanzas, and none of the remaining five hit me like this one, so maybe it’s me, and maybe it’s personal, and maybe what puts the “fine” in my “wine” doesn’t so much in yours.

That’s poetry. Poetry that “seems far away and gentle now.”

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