Frank O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died” presents an I that is representative of a daily life. The constant usage of her “I” followed by a certain routine or action occurring that day displays the voice in O’Hara’s poem. That voice is of one person, and that person in this case is Billie Holiday. After doing a little research on her life I discovered that Holiday had a pretty turbulent childhood and was also a victim of attempted rape. After reading the poem out loud, I started feeling tired. The repetition of the sentences starting with I along with the many commas emphasizes the length of the day described in the poem. The journey of Holiday during this day starts with a lot of energy as the first stanza takes the readers through three different times and provides the year. The first and one of the shorter stanzas manage to cover a span of 7 hours whereas the rest describe the rest of the day which is only about 30% of the day. This journey reminds me of my usual work day. I’d wake up in the morning, full of energy and time and everything around me would move rather quickly. I would work as hard as I could to pass time quicker. Once the morning passed and work was over, time slowed down and things were more easily noticed. I was able to appreciate the little and unexpected things like that man who let me on the bus before him, or the beautiful music this one homeless man played. These things are the smaller things that happen throughout the day that go unnoticed, it’s comparative to the speaker’s visiting of the bank and how her balance was not checked. Ironic as it may be, time actually feels like its elapsed quicker in that second half of the day rather than the first half because that’s the time that you enjoy more. This playing of time could be a ploy by O’Hara to trick our senses of time. Furthermore, reading this poem out loud is tiring as i feel like I’m partaking in each individual action. The turbulent childhood of holiday’s could even be a relevant factor in O’Hara’s usage of her long sentences and overall journey in this poem. The speaker starts the day out as any other person and ends as any other day ends. But O’Hara could also be attempting to make an analogy out to a general life as well as the life of Billie Holiday. As the speaker sweats and loses her breath her day comes to an end as well as Holiday’s life. But that’s a question that I can’t even figure out. Overall the poem presents an analogy to me of my everyday life and in relation to Billie Holiday’s life troubles we are all given a life we can relate to. As O’Hara responds to Holiday’s death with his poem, he also exemplifies a journey of any one person’s day/life and how sudden an end can be reached.
So do you think O’Hara attempts to replicate the readers daily life and day with his poem?
Also what does O’Hara try to emphasize with his last line of the speaker losing her breath?