Franz Kafka: Kleine Fabel

„Ach,“ sagte die Maus, „die Welt wird  enger mit jedem Tag. Zuerst war  sie  so  breit,  daß  ich  Angst  hatte,  ich  lief  weiter  und  war glücklich, daß ich endlich rechts und links in der Ferne Mauern sah, aber diese langen Mauern eilen so schnell aufeinander zu, daß ich schon im letzten Zimmer bin, und dort im Winkel steht die Falle, in die  ich  laufe.“ –„Du  mußt  nur  die  Laufrichtung  ändern,“  sagte  die Katze und fraß sie.

(Image: a collaboration of Frank O'Hara and Franz Klein from 21 Etchings and Poems, with O'Hara's 

Poem (To Franz Kline):

I will always love you
though I never loved you

a boy smelling faintly of heather
staring up at your window

the passion that enlightens
and stills and cultivates, gone

while I sought your face
to be familiar in the blueness

or to follow your sharp whistle
around a corner into my light

that was love growing fainter
each time you failed to appear

I spent my whole self searching
love which I thought was you

it was mine so briefly
and I never knew it, or you went

I thought it was outside disappearing
but it is disappearing in my heart

like snow blown in a window
to be gone from the world 

At first glance, it may seem difficult to separate Frank O’Hara from the painters and poets who comprised the influential New York School. Art was one of his great passions, and the synchronicity between O’Hara and the abstract expressionists is clear in his poetry. He put words upon paper in the same seemingly carefree, yet distinctly deliberate fashion as Franz Klein placed brush strokes on canvas, evoking unfiltered emotion from the abstract. 

The subversion of common conceptions of art and beauty was common between O’Hara and the artists of the New York School. In the same way that Klein’s intense monochrome lines defy convention and capture the physicality of painting, O’Hara’s poetry captures the movement of New York, acting as hymns to the city’s outsiders and degenerates. The fundamental longing for love and acceptance found in his poetry goes beyond the direct implications of O’Hara’s own societal status as a gay man. Rather, he directly grapples with the most common human desires. Much like the paintings of his abstract expressionist peers, O’Hara constructs his poetry around intrinsic emotions, promising a reaction from the reader despite his unconventional form.