To the Harbormaster

By Frank O'Hara 1926–1966 Frank O'Hara
I wanted to be sure to reach you;
though my ship was on the way it got caught   
in some moorings. I am always tying up   
and then deciding to depart. In storms and   
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide   
around my fathomless arms, I am unable   
to understand the forms of my vanity   
or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder   
in my hand and the sun sinking. To   
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage   
of my will. The terrible channels where   
the wind drives me against the brown lips   
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet   
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and   
if it sinks, it may well be in answer   
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.

Frank O’Hara, “To the Harbormaster” from Meditations in an Emergency. Copyright © 1957 by Frank O’Hara. Reprinted with the permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc., www.groveatlantic.com.

Source: The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara (1995)

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Poet Frank O'Hara 1926–1966

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Subjects Love, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Relationships, Nature, Romantic Love, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Frank  O'Hara

Biography

Frank O'Hara was a dynamic leader of the "New York School" of poets, a group that included John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. The Abstract Expressionist painters in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s used the title, but the poets borrowed it. From the beginning O'Hara's poetry was engaged with the worlds of music, dance, and painting. In that complex of associations he devised an idea of poetic . . .

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SUBJECT Love, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Relationships, Nature, Romantic Love, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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