Deadliest Writer #2: Frank O’Hara vs William Butler Yeats.
Ladies and gentleman, Deadliest Writer is back and ready to ask the pointless question of which dead writer would win in a fight to the (now moot) death. YEAH!
This time around it’s Anglo-Irish vs American-Irish. So please forgive any thoughtless leprechaun jokes. Or drinking jokes. Or sectarian jokes. Wait, I don’t think the last category is real (or it’s probably not funny ever).
ROUND ONE- Fighting Style
O’Hara: New York School / Personism
Yeats: Symbolist / Early Modernist
ROUND TWO- Short Range Weapon
O’Hara: cigarettes? I mean, wielded correctly a cigarette can do considerable damage. Especially in the eye. And it seems as if O’Hara is constantly smoking and walking throughout his poems. ‘Steps’, one of my favourite poems of all time ends with this :
oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much
That is not really a weapon but more a justification of the tobacco as weapon idea.
Yeats: up close and personal, Yeats’ first choice of weapon would likely be his dashing mop of Irish hair. Look at that thing! It is lush and think and flops in just the right way. A judicious shrug could swipe even the most hard-hearted off their feet. For a succint definition of Irish hair, please see this video (starting at about 6 minutes) by the incomparable Dylan Moran.
ROUND THREE- Long Range Weapon
O’Hara: joy. I know, I know, this is almost as lame as the fact that only happy thoughts can make a Patronus and defeat dementors. (I’m not saying Yeats was a soul-sucker, but maybe consider this again after the Special Weapons section)
Yeats: his 1923 Nobel Prize. This can be adapted as a succesful long range weapon in several ways: one) use the biggass gold coin as some kind of missile, perhaps utilising the way one would skim a stone OR do the whole David-and-Goliath thing with a sling shot, but instead of stone the ammunition is pure gold and superiority complex; two) use the prize money to either buy weapons or assassins or to bribe the writer of this simulation to let him win. Either/ or, really, I mean, I’m happy with both options.
ROUND FOUR- Special Weapons
Yeats: freaky supernatural shit. Now, I don’t know exactly what this is involved, but it’s pretty well documented that Yeats developed a deep interest in mysticism and the occult later in life. He engaged in automatic writing that brought he and his wife in contact with spirits or ‘Instructors’. He was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, with a certain Mr. Aleister Crowley (though apparently they didn’t like each other). Basically, it is possible that Yeats would just AVADA KEDAVRA poor Frank quicker than a dune buggy. (Please resist any diatribes about how magic isn’t real, guys, just lemme have this one).
O’Hara: often forgotten musical ability! O’Hara first studied music when he attended Harvard as an undergrad, and remained a stellar piano player until his untimely death. So while Yeats is communing with the dead, O’Hara could drown out the conversation with some Rachmaninoff. Although, Yeats was tone-deaf, so I’m not sure how effective this would be.
FINAL OUTCOME: I really don’t want to give the Yeats, because, let’s face it, he was probably arrogant enough with the Nobel Prize and being an Irish Senator and everyone saying how important he was to 20th century literature, etc etc but he really does have the upper hand in just about every category. If this were a who-do-I-want-to-hang-out-with-more competition, O’Hara would take the cake. We would wander around the city and chase pigeons and laugh and smoke a lot of cigarettes. But this is REAL COMBAT, and Yeats would either hire a legion of brawn to defend him or hex poor Frank to death.
Old Irish is victorious.