In an extraordinary poem Frank O’Hara describes his love for the poet Mayakovsky. After an outburst of feeling, he writes,
but I’m turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.
What he is telling us is something unbelievably painful. Secreted in O’Hara’s thought is the possibility that we create only as dead men. Who but the dead know what it is to be alive? Death seems the only metaphor distant enough to truly measure our existence.
Frank understood this. That is why these poems, so colloquial, so conversational, nevertheless seems to be reaching us from some other, infinitely distant place.
Bad artists throughout history have always tried to make their art like life. Only the artist who is close to his own life gives us an art that is like death.
From: Give My Regards To Eighth Street – Collected Writings of Morton Feldman (edited by B.H. Friedman; afterword by Frank O’Hara), Cambridge, Exact Change, 2000
Morton Feldman: The Rothko Chapel, Part 1 (Link)