“We Are Not Responsible” by Harryette Mullen and “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara are two poems that written directly to express the authors thoughts of some facts. Regarding the inspiration, the former is the common rules and issues Mullen gathered in daily life with a high frequency while the latter is aroused by a post Frank O’Hara explored accidently.
Although she is an emerging poet, Mullen received a literature award from the Black Arts Academy, which represented her extraordinary achievement. And in the poem “We Are Not Responsible”, Mullen was influenced by the social, political, and cultural movements.
Harryette Mullen employed much commonly–used format, and lots of repetition in the poem “We Are Not Responsible,” she had used a way to put forward and uncover many underlying and transparent rules and norms of the society, which may be the relative issues that every single one would face. When see this poem for the first time, the format gave me and most easy point to catch, which is also the most noticeable part of “We Are Not Responsible.” Due to the poem is neither use the most familiar format for example stanzas structure nor it used any kind of meter, even not really complicated organization. It is only clarified into just one single paragraph which is prose poem.
The first sentence “We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives,” really made me felt like in a crowded zoo or amusement park and the administer or the guider said we must mind our people around us by ourselves. Unlike other disclaimers usually would present in this format with “your lost or stolen goods or items”, this poem uses the word “relatives”, which leave a very unforgettable impression to the listeners. Mullen use this word in this sentence emphasize a possible image that if the listener’s relative is lost in reality then where could they may be going likely and what will happen to the lost people all alone, and in what way the victim’s relative can be found and come back. It’s a way to leave it unsolved and is open for interpretation as well. The repetition of “we” and “your” is very vague range, and can resulted to other’s though of that “we” may be refers to a powerful governing team which in charge of a large group of people. This group of people is not slight care about the lost people, the lost possessions and the lost right.
There is one line said “Your ticket does not guarantee that we will honor your reservations.”, which underlying set up an image of the ticket keeper is rejected when he shows it to the workers. The word “does not” directly organize a tone for the other words in this line as indifferent and cold. Since the keeper had this ticket then he is permit and he or she should have the right to possess the reservations.
Especially the line “You are not presumed to be innocent if the police have reason to suspect you are carrying a concealed wallet.” (Mullen, 12) If the police do it on purpose, or the evidence is not strong or not correct, but there is no reason to be against the objection strongly, then the person who is supposed to be guilty is really had nothing can do but to be taken into custody. This poem uncovered lots of social rules and established facts, with a tone of simple statement, leaving readers lots of sense to brew. The pacing of this poem is short because the title or the thesis was stated at the beginning of the poem. Unlike other poems, Mullen was direct to the first point of “stolen or lost relatives.” It is also very clearly that this is a prose poem which means it appears as prose but reads like poetry. There are no interruptions between lines but there are punctuations. Each line of the poem tells a story of a different type of group.
Another poem “The Day Lady Died” was truly vivid but also not depends on visualization evocation as the “We Are Not Responsible.” It’s a poem created largely based on abstract color of certain names. The last image on the poem –“She whispered a song along the keyboard”–is absolutely effective and alive. This image is also the only image of the poem.
The author of this poem, Francis Russell “Frank” O’Hara, was an American writer, and he also was a poet and an art critic. As a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, O’Hara became prominent in New York City’s art world.
The content of O’Hara’s poetry “The Day Lady Died” feels really personal which reminds me of the idea of Persona by Hirsch. “Poems are personlike, they are pseudopersons.” (Hirsch, Page128) O’Hara’s writing sought to capture in his poetry the immediacy of life, feeling that poetry should be “between two persons instead of two pages.” This poem worked as a mournful song for Billie Holiday. By recollecting nature expressing, the poem makes every reader feels sorrow for Holiday’s passing away. There is no doubt that this is a lyric poem. At the beginning, “The Day Lady Died” established a tone of easy and daily, just saying the time schedule of the day, so at least the storyline will tend to be usual when reader see it at first sight, first with a glimpse at his watch–12:20:
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
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.” (O’Hara 1-6)
The whole time line easily described about a-day-in-the-life of Frank O’Hara and the city. At that day he was in New York City and that day was accidently 3 days after Bastille Day, and then he is going to have a shoeshine. And after that the speaker will take the train out of the city to East Hampton, meeting some of his goods friends. But then things changed differently, and it was until the final four lines in the end that O’Hara brought the statement about the “Lady’s” death. This sequence “get off the 4:19 in Easthampton / at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner,” is fit enough to made here to suppose an anticipation of the end of day, the poet is going to finish his day but the poem is not. The end of the storyline for this poem is interrupted by the subject— the “New York post”. The submit is the found of “Lady’s” death and there seems an ineffaceable recall of the connection of so many seemingly unrelated random action on a really ordinary day.
Next, the speaker calculated his general routine schedule by himself again, he then took a walk and hanging out the road. After finished lunch, he bought literary journal. What shocked him is that the bank clerk didn’t inform the or even look his account balance. The speaker went to a bookstore to buy books as present for his friends. Then he went to liquor store to get a nice bottle so he could send it to another friend. After all this done, he yearned a cigar for enjoying, so he stepped back and found the tobacco store around the corner and then had a smoke, when he raised his head and look around he found a copy of a newspaper with Billie Holiday’s face on the cover—The New York post in the poem. Actually, he is a faithful and loyal fan of her! What astonishing! Billie Holiday has passed away! Then the speaker took the newspaper along with his cigarettes.