H English 102
March 4, 2013
“Why I am not a painter” by Frank O’Hara and “Dedication” by Czeslaw Milosz could not be any more different on the surface, but they have several similarities especially when analyzed in the context of Emily Dickinson’s “Untitled”. In her poem, E.D. describes what a poet means to her—that they take ordinary situations and make them beautiful and when they do, we think how obvious it seems and then “We wonder it was not ourselves/ arrested it—before—.“ This is the equivalent of wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that??” She feels that a world without poetry would rob the rest of us from seeing the beauty of another’s life experience and that the poet himself is so wealthy in intelligence that he has no concept money or intellectual property. This becomes clear by, “Of portion—so unconscious--/The robbing – could not harm--/ Himself to Him a Fortune—“ (4) Looking beneath the surface of each poem, we learn about a friend of O’Hara’s whom he references in the poem, Mike Goldberg, the abstract painter. I learned that O’Hara was an American who had served in WW2 as a sonarman on a destroyer—safely out of direct combat. After the Navy, he went on to Harvard and eventually became the curator for the Museum of Modern Art, where he could hobnob with the likes of Goldberg and Pollack in the height of the “abstract” craze. (David Lehman) Milozs’s story was a bit different. As a young man in Poland, he was drafted in to the Tsar’s Army where he was a combat engineer on the front lines in WW1. After the war, he earned a degree as Master of
Law and spent WW2 in Warsaw working for underground media. (Poets.org) A brief history is given because the highlights of the men’s lives’ presented here tie so deeply into the poems in question. Emily Dickinson begins her poem with, “This was a poet”. All three poets use their first line to describe who they are and/or...