In the poem, “Having a Coke with You,” Frank O’Hara demonstrates the idea of true love through the use of references to art and foreign lands, dragged out tone and sentences, and descriptive diction. O’Hara uses these techniques to show that true love is the object of his desire and is not willing to let it pass by him. The poet uses these unique methods in a way that is also easy to understand and completely connects with the title itself. The overall message of this poem is that love possesses a power to withstand even the temptations of beautiful places, and even the most enhanced and brilliant art on the planet.
Throughout the poem, Frank O’Hara demonstrates his knowledge of foreign lands and cultures. He begins his poem with this line, “is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne”. This immediately introduces beautiful places around the world. As the poem persists, the poet continues to state that something is more fun and beautiful then anything in the world. That something is love. O’Hara also shows his knowledge of the arts. He writes, “I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world.” After that, he begins to name pieces of artwork and their artist. This provides an enhanced effect upon the reader. It gives imagery so that the reader can actually think of just how beautiful the work is, yet remember that the narrator’s love is stronger. This is where the title comes into mind. Sharing a beverage is part of a date of some sort, which provides evidence that the narrator is indeed comparing all of these places and artwork to his love for another.
Immediately while reading this a first time, it is obvious that very little punctuation is used and the sentences seem to just drag on. This technique brings up the idea of a stream of conscious narration. It is the thoughts of someone flowing out of their heart without the need or care for grammar. The listening of this poem adds emphasis to the dragged on type of tone. The poet speaks as if just thinking it off the top of his mind, like a diary of some sort. The effect that this has may be minor, but is very import. It shows the aspect that the love is true, rather than something just made up. It came from the heart and the grammar just was unnecessary to just get the point across. The tone and manner that the poem is presented shows that the idea of true love is something important to the narrator and is something that he can talk a lot about without needing to stop, even for punctuation.
Diction is a major technique that O’Hara uses to get his point across about true love and not letting it get by. He uses many descriptive words to describe the affection of the love. He uses words such as “fluorescent orange” and “secrecy smiles” to show the true brightness and care that his love contains. These words not only characterize the love and affection, but bring together imagery as well. The use of colors and smiles paint a picture that affects readers of all ages. The diction used by Frank O’Hara is not only descriptive, but fairly simple as well. He uses easy to understand language that helps the overall connection between the narrator and the reader. This connection leads to trust, allowing what the narrator has to say to be listened to by the reader. The soft-spoken words add to the idea that love beside all is most important.
In the poem “Having a Coke with You,” Frank O’Hara uses different and unique techniques to keep his idea that love is the narrators choice overall in the reader’s mind. With his knowledge, diction, and lack of punctuation O’Hara captures the reader’s mind and expresses his love above all else.