31 pages 1 hour read

Frank O'Hara

Ave Maria

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1964

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“Ave Maria”

  • Originally Published: 1964
  • Form/Meter: Free verse
  • Literary Devices: Enjambment, repetition, dropped line breaks, anaphora, consonance, assonance, colloquialism
  • Central Concern: The speaker implores “Mothers of America” to allow their children the pleasure of going to the movies; metaphorically, the poem promotes the benefits of departure from a sheltering homelife for the “darker joys” and lessons of real-world experiences. 
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Christian religious imagery and language; sexual content


Frank O’Hara, Poet

  • Bio: 1926-1966; a leader of the New York School of poets; grew up in Grafton, MA intending to be a concert pianist; served in WWII; attended Harvard University where he roomed with writer/artist Edward Gorey and chose writing over music; co-founded Cambridge Poets Theatre; worked for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; gained recognition and critical acclaim after death
  • Other Works: “Ann Arbor Variations” (1951); “Poem [‘Lana Turner has collapsed!’]” (1964); Lunch Poems (1964)
  • Awards:  National Book Award for Poetry (1972) for The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara



  • Family Dynamics
  • Freedom Versus Constraint
  • Sexuality and Self-Discovery