Original poem reprinted online here: "Chez Jane" by Frank O'Hara
Originally read: April 12, 2013
More information about the Poet: Frank O'Hara
Every time I read Frank O'Hara's work, I marvel on the grand themes and serious discourse in his work. That's a lie. Frank O'Hara has a sense of humor and tricks the reader by pivoting meaning of words and phrases without sacrificing "meaning" (the grandiose themes) in a tongue-in-cheek way.
But first, the set up. The poem starts out fancy domesticity with "The white chocolate jar full of petals" and the observation of stationary boredom comes at the announcement of time "four o'clocks now and to come."
Then suddenly the poem becomes surreal with the introduction of the Tiger -- the description of the tiger is "irritable" and doing a lot of action, but note "without disturbing a hair/ of the flowers' breathless attention, pisses into the pot, right down it's delicate spout," Crude, yes. Humorous, of course. However, with the introduction of the boredom in the beginning of the poem, the surreal buffers any impact or any change. It's as if the surreal is part of the scenery, and is part of the boredom -- it is the language that is obscene.
“Saint-Saëns!” it seems to be whispering," note the word "seems" which implies a speaker creating this scenario. Also note that the "seems" here is inserting meaning into the scene. But then "furry nuts."
Past me wrote, "Memories of the zoos projected into domesticity for boredom sake." I want to add one thing that relates to "furry nuts" and that is the change from porcelin to fur -- the posh boredom to the real, the more vivid.
Now at this point the speaker is completely away from the surreal scene and into a memory of "Garden / of Zoos, the eternally fixed afternoons!" and further into his imagination the beast, the tiger" becomes more lively by, "scratches its scrofulous / stomach" "a tongue given wholly to luxurious usages;"
Past me wrote that the semi-colon brings the reader "back to reality somewhat," but the reality shifts with the throwing of the chair in the second to last line. Past me wrote, "the 'menacing' throwing of a chair (moving perhaps versus the violence and audacity of memory." Very articulate past me, but the articulation at the end, "to aggravate the truly menacing." open up a broader picture of what the truly menacing could be -- domestic boredom most likely or whatever bourgeois intent placed on the poem.