What subtexts can be found in Frank O'Hara's poem The Day Lady Died?Is Frank O'Hara's poem The Day Lady Died full of sub-texts?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Frank O`Hara`s poem, `The Day Lady Died`, is overtly about the day of the death of Billie (Lady Day) Holiday. Subtexts would be any themes not related to the overt narrative of the poem. One important subtext is the poet`s own relationship to poetry and culture. The narrator is presented as a cultural snob, whose relationship to the high cultural elements he deploys in his poetry is vexed and insecure. He is constantly involved in name dropping – the friends in the Hamptons (an area where the wealthy have 2nd homes), Verlaine, Bastille day, Homer (albeit in translation) are all intended to show the narrator as a sophisticated, cultured person. The breathless moment remembered listening to the singer may represent a breakthrough of authenticity into the poet`s self-absorption and intent to impress his listeners, or may yet another subtext suggesting that the New York school enthusiasm for jazz, like the high cultural name dropping, is yet another pose.

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