The poems of Dorothy Parker: Damn!

Posted in blog post on March 20th, 2010 by Merrill Markoe

May I humbly suggest that everyone who stumbled upon this entry go immediately to google and enter “Dorothy Parker, poems of”. Every so often I re-read them and  just want to sing her praises, that’s all.  Brilliant is too often repeated a word to describe her work. Here is a perfect 4 line example that makes me gasp every time I read it. Its the end of a poem called “Ballade of a Great Weariness.”

“Oh, beggar or prince, no more no more!
Be off and away with your strut and show
The sweeter the apple the blacker the core
Scratch a lover and find a foe.”

Wow. Could that last line  possibly under any circumstances be more perfect? Answer: No. Not possible. But okay, okay… here is one more randomly selected poem. However they’re all this good or better.

Love Song

My own dear love, he is strong and bold
And he cares not what comes after,
His words ring sweet as a chime of gold,
And his eyes are lit with laughter
He is jubilant as a flag unfurled
Oh a girl, she’d not forget him
My own dear love, he is my world
And I wish I’d never met him

My love, he’s mad and my love he’s fleet
And a wild young wood -thing bore him!
The ways are fair to his roaming feet
And the skies are sunlit for him.
As sharply sweet to my heart he seems
As the fragrance of acacia
My own dear love, he is all my dreams
And I wish he were in Asia.

My love runs by like a day in June
and he makes no friends of sorrows
He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon
In the pathway of the morros
He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start
Nor could storm or wind uproot him
My own dear love he is all my heart
And I wish somebody’d shoot him.

She’s amazing.

9 Responses to “The poems of Dorothy Parker: Damn!”

  1. Yes, Dorothy Parker was astounding. Who else could capture that pitch perfect sarcasm in a poem? I’m fairly obsessed with her …

  2. Susan says:

    yeah, that’s true love, and reminds me of your Romeo & Juliet piece ~

  3. Mary V says:

    My favorite DP poem:


    Into love and out again,
    Thus I went, and thus I go.
    Spare your voice, and hold your pen –
    Well and bitterly, I know
    All the songs were ever sung,
    All the word were ever said;
    Could it be, when I was young,
    Some one dropped me on my head?

    Merrill, her obit in the NYT had this great quote which reminds me of you (and your wild mind…)

    She had her own definition of humor, and it demanded lonely, perfectionist writing to make the truly funny seem casual and uncontrived. “Humor to me, Heaven help me, takes in many things,” she said. “There must be courage; there must be no awe. There must be criticism, for humor, to my mind, is encapsulated in criticism. There must be a disciplined eye and wild mind. There must be a magnificent disregard for your reader, for if he cannot follow you, there is nothing you can do about it.”

    • Yep. That’s another great poem. Most of them are amazing. I was actually relieved that I didn’t like every one, just to make her abilities a little more human. And thanks for thinking of me in the same sentence with her.

      • We stayed at a B&B in Maine where each room was named after a famous writer. We stayed in the Dorothy Parker Room, which was stocked with her books. It was my introduction to her writing.

        It’s a shame the painted partial toenail I found in the bed had to appear and wipe away the charm of the place. I wonder if it was Dorothy’s Nail.

        Now *that* might have made the trip worthwhile… ;P

        [had to put this as a reply on a comment, because your full page won’t fit on my screen. What am I doing wrong?!]

    • Ew.
      Dont know what you are doing wrong. I will ask my, ahem, web advisor.

  4. Tom Sullivan says:

    Even if all she ever wrote was “You can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think” that would still be a lot more than I’ll ever accomplish.
    Happily, besides being a great wit, she was also a real writer.
    I don’t think Miss Parker liked too many people but I suspect she would have liked you.

  5. Kendra says:

    I stumbled across Parker in the back of the library early in my high school years. I have spent the following twenty years telling anyone who will listen about Parker. She changed who I was then and helped sculpt who I am now. Her dark insight into the world spoke to me and continues to do so. Such a fabulous woman with an amazing mind. Oh, to have been able to meet her *sigh*.