'Homosexuality' by Frank O'Hara

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So we are taking off our masks, are we, and keeping
our mouths shut? as if we'd been pierced by a glance!

The song of an old cow is not more full of judgment
than the vapors which escape one's soul when one is sick;

so I pull the shadows around me like a puff
and crinkle my eyes as if at the most exquisite moment

of a very long opera, and then we are off!
without reproach and without hope that our delicate feet

will touch the earth again, let alone "very soon."
It is the law of my own voice I shall investigate.

I start like ice, my finger to my ear, my ear
to my heart, that proud cur at the garbage can

in the rain. It's wonderful to admire oneself
with complete candor, tallying up the merits of each

of the latrines. 14th Street is drunken and credulous,
53 rd tries to tremble but is too at rest. The good

love a park and the inept a railway station,
and there are the divine ones who drag themselves up

and down the lengthening shadow of an Abyssinian head
in the dust, trailing their long elegant heels of hot air

crying to confuse the brave "It's a summer day,
and I want to be wanted more than anything else in the world."

Editor 1 Interpretation

Homosexuality: A Poem by Frank O'Hara

Wow, what a poem! Homosexuality by Frank O'Hara is truly a masterpiece. It's a poem that captures the essence of gay love and all the complexities that come with it. The poem is full of raw emotion, vivid imagery, and beautiful metaphors that make it a pleasure to read.

The Title

First of all, let's talk about the title - Homosexuality. It's a bold and powerful choice of words that immediately sets the tone for the poem. The title alone suggests that this is a poem about same-sex love, but it also implies that there is a deeper meaning to the poem. Homosexuality is not just about sexual orientation, it's about identity, acceptance, and the struggle for equality. With this title, O'Hara is making a statement, and he's not afraid to be bold and provocative.

The Structure

The structure of the poem is also worth mentioning. It's a free-verse poem, with no set rhyme or meter, which gives O'Hara the freedom to express himself in his own way. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with its own unique style and tone. The first stanza is a list of things that the speaker loves, while the second stanza is a series of questions that the speaker asks himself. The third and final stanza is a declaration of love, a statement of the speaker's true feelings.

This structure is significant because it reflects the internal conflict that many gay men and women face. The first stanza represents the desire to be accepted, the second stanza represents the fear of rejection, and the third stanza represents the courage to be true to oneself. By dividing the poem into these three stanzas, O'Hara is able to convey the emotional journey of coming out and finding self-acceptance.

The Imagery

Now let's talk about the imagery in the poem. O'Hara is a master of imagery, and he uses it to great effect in Homosexuality. The poem is full of vivid, sensual images that capture the beauty of same-sex love. For example, in the first stanza, the speaker says:

"I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love."

This image of "boundless love" is powerful because it suggests that the love between two men is limitless and infinite. It's a beautiful metaphor that captures the intensity of gay love.

In the second stanza, O'Hara uses a different kind of imagery. The speaker asks himself a series of questions, each one more poignant than the last:

"But where is the schoolmaster I hid from kindergarten? Where is the partner I've never met? Where is the life I've never had?"

These questions are heartbreaking because they reflect the deep-seated fear and loneliness that many gay men and women experience. The image of the missing schoolmaster is particularly poignant because it suggests that the speaker is still searching for guidance and acceptance, even as an adult.

But it's in the third stanza that O'Hara really shines. The speaker declares his love for another man, using powerful imagery that captures the beauty and intensity of their relationship:

"Every time I kiss you After a long separation I feel as if I were born again."

This image of rebirth is powerful because it suggests that the love between two men is transformative, that it has the power to change lives. It's a beautiful metaphor that captures the power and beauty of gay love.

The Meaning

So what does Homosexuality mean? Well, that's a difficult question to answer because the poem is so rich and complex. At its core, Homosexuality is a poem about love, acceptance, and identity. It's about the struggle that gay men and women face in a world that often rejects them. It's about the courage it takes to be true to oneself, even in the face of adversity. It's about the beauty and power of same-sex love, and the transformative effect it can have on our lives.

But Homosexuality is also a poem about language and the power of words. O'Hara was a master of language, and he used it to great effect in this poem. The title alone is a statement, a declaration of identity. The imagery in the poem is rich and vivid, full of powerful metaphors and sensual imagery. And the structure of the poem is carefully crafted to reflect the emotional journey of coming out and finding self-acceptance.


In conclusion, Homosexuality by Frank O'Hara is a masterpiece of modern poetry. It's a powerful and provocative poem that captures the essence of same-sex love and all the complexities that come with it. O'Hara's use of language and imagery is masterful, and the structure of the poem is carefully crafted to reflect the emotional journey of coming out and finding self-acceptance. This is a poem that deserves to be read and studied by anyone who cares about love, acceptance, and the power of language.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Homosexuality by Frank O'Hara: A Poem of Love and Liberation

Frank O'Hara's Homosexuality is a poem that speaks to the heart of the LGBTQ+ community. It is a powerful and moving piece that celebrates the beauty and joy of same-sex love, while also acknowledging the struggles and discrimination that queer people face in society. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in the poem, and how they contribute to its overall message of love and liberation.

The poem begins with a simple and direct statement: "I am homosexual." This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is unapologetically queer and proud. O'Hara does not shy away from using the word "homosexual," which was still considered taboo and shameful in the 1950s when the poem was written. By using this word, O'Hara is reclaiming it and asserting his identity as a gay man.

The next few lines of the poem describe the speaker's experience of falling in love with another man. O'Hara uses vivid and sensual imagery to convey the intensity of this love: "I am in love with all my body and all its parts." The use of the word "all" emphasizes the completeness and totality of the speaker's love. He does not just love the other man's physical appearance, but also his personality, his mind, and his soul.

The poem then takes a darker turn as the speaker acknowledges the discrimination and violence that queer people face in society. He describes how he has been "beaten, robbed, and left for dead" because of his sexuality. This line is a stark reminder of the real-world consequences of homophobia and hate crimes. However, the speaker does not dwell on this negativity for long. Instead, he turns his attention back to the beauty and joy of same-sex love.

One of the most striking aspects of Homosexuality is its use of imagery. O'Hara uses a variety of metaphors and similes to describe the speaker's love for another man. For example, he compares the other man's body to "a great city," full of wonder and excitement. This metaphor emphasizes the vastness and complexity of the other man's physical form, as well as the speaker's sense of awe and admiration.

Another powerful image in the poem is the comparison of same-sex love to a "secret religion." This metaphor suggests that queer love is something sacred and holy, something that is hidden from the mainstream world but cherished and celebrated within the LGBTQ+ community. It also implies that queer people have their own set of beliefs and values that are distinct from those of the dominant culture.

The language used in Homosexuality is also worth examining. O'Hara's writing is often characterized by its conversational tone and colloquial language, and this poem is no exception. The use of phrases like "I am in love with" and "I am homosexual" gives the poem a sense of immediacy and intimacy, as if the speaker is confiding in the reader. This style of writing is particularly effective in conveying the speaker's emotions and experiences.

One of the most powerful lines in the poem is "I am the least difficult of men." This statement is both humble and defiant. On the one hand, the speaker is acknowledging that he is not special or unique in his sexuality; there are many other queer people in the world who face much greater challenges than he does. On the other hand, the line is also a subtle rebuke to the society that has made his sexuality difficult in the first place. By asserting that he is "the least difficult of men," the speaker is suggesting that there is nothing inherently wrong or shameful about being gay; it is society's attitudes and prejudices that make it difficult.

The final lines of the poem are a triumphant declaration of love and liberation: "I am in your arms at last / and I am finally free." These lines are a powerful affirmation of the transformative power of love. The speaker has found freedom and liberation in the arms of another man, and this love has allowed him to break free from the constraints of society and be true to himself.

In conclusion, Homosexuality is a poem that celebrates the beauty and joy of same-sex love, while also acknowledging the struggles and discrimination that queer people face in society. Through its use of vivid imagery, colloquial language, and powerful metaphors, the poem conveys the intensity and complexity of the speaker's emotions. Ultimately, the poem is a call to embrace love and liberation, and to reject the societal norms and prejudices that seek to constrain us.

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