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Dorothy Parker

American Writer

1893-1967


SELECTED POEMS

Narrated by Carol Monda

Download mp3 file: Selected Poems

This file is 3.5 MB; running time is 15 minutes
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SONG IN A MINOR KEY

             

There's a place I know where the birds swing low,
                  And wayward vines go roaming,
              Where the lilacs nod, and a marble god
                  Is pale, in scented gloaming.
              And at sunset there comes a lady fair
                  Whose eyes are deep with yearning.
              By an old, old gate does the lady wait
                  Her own true love's returning.

             

But the days go by, and the lilacs die,
                And trembling birds seek cover;
            Yet the lady stands, with her long white hands
                Held out to greet her lover.
            And it's there she'll stay till the shadowy day
                A monument they grave her.
            She will always wait by the same old gate, —
                The gate her true love gave her.

RONDEAU REDOUBLÉ (AND SCARCELY WORTH THE TROUBLE, AT THAT)

             

The same to me are sombre days and gay.
                  Though joyous dawns the rosy morn, and bright,
              Because my dearest love is gone away
                  Within my heart is melancholy night.

             

My heart beats low in loneliness, despite
                  That riotous Summer holds the earth in sway.
              In cerements my spirit is bedight;
                  The same to me are sombre days and gay.

             

Though breezes in the rippling grasses play,
                And waves dash high and far in glorious might,
            thrill no longer to the sparkling day,
                Though joyous dawns the rosy morn, and bright.

           

Ungraceful seems to me the swallow's flight;
                As well might Heaven's blue be sullen gray;
            My soul discerns no beauty in their sight
                Because my dearest love is gone away

.            

Let roses fling afar their crimson spray,
                And virgin daisies splash the fields with white,
            Let bloom the poppy hotly as it may,
                Within my heart is melancholy night.

           

And this, oh love, my pitiable plight
                Whenever from my circling arms you stray;
            This little world of mine has lost its light ...
                I hope to God, my dear, that you can say
                                                    The same to me.

MEN: A HATE SONG

I hate Men;
They irritate me.

I.

There are the Serious Thinkers—
There ought to be a law against them.
They see life, as through shell-rimmed glasses, darkly.
They are always drawing their weary hands
Across their wan brows.
They talk about Humanity
As if they had just invented it;
They have to keep helping it along.
They revel in strikes
And they are eternally getting up petitions.
They are doing a wonderful thing for the Great Unwashed—
They are living right down among them.
They can hardly wait
For "The Masses" to appear on the newsstands,
And they read all those Russian novels—
The sex best sellers.

II.

There are the Cave Men—
The Specimens of Red-Blooded Manhood.
They eat everything very rare,
They are scarcely ever out of their cold baths,
And they want everybody to feel their muscles.
They talk in loud voices,
Using short Anglo-Saxon words.
They go around raising windows,
And they slap people on the back,
And tell them what they need is exercise.
They are always just on the point of walking to San Francisco,
Or crossing the ocean in a sailboat,
Or going through Russia on a sled—
I wish to God they would!

III.

And then there are the Sensitive Souls
Who do interior decorating, for Art's sake.
They always smell faintly of vanilla
And put drops of sandalwood on their cigarettes.
They are continually getting up costume balls
So that they can go
As something out of the "Arabian Nights."
They give studio teas
Where people sit around on cushions
And wish they hadn't come.
They look at a woman languorously, through half-closed eyes,
And tell her, in low, passionate tones,
What she ought to wear.
Color is everything to them—everything;
The wrong shade of purple
Gives them a nervous breakdown.

IV.

Then there are the ones
Who are Simply Steeped in Crime.
They tell you how they haven't been to bed
For four nights.
They frequent those dramas
Where the only good lines
Are those of the chorus.
They stagger from one cabaret to another,
And they give you the exact figures of their gambling debts.
They hint darkly at the terrible part
That alcohol plays in their lives.
And then they shake their heads
And say Heaven must decide what is going to become of them—
I wish I were Heaven!
I hate Men;
They irritate me.

WOMEN: A HATE SONG

I hate Women;
They get on my nerves.
There are the Domestic ones.
They are the worst.
Every moment is packed with Happiness.
They breathe deeply
And walk with large strides, eternally hurrying home
To see about dinner.
They are the kind
Who say, with a tender smile, "Money's not everything."
They are always confronting me with dresses,
Saying, "I made this myself."
They read Woman's pages and try out the recipes.
Oh, how I hate that kind of woman.
Then there are the human Sensitve Plants;
The Bundles of Nerves.
They are different from everybody else; they even tell you so.
Someone is always stepping on their feelings.
Everything hurts them—deeply.
Their eyes are forever filling with tears.
They always want to talk to me about the Real Things,
The things that Matter.
Yes, they know they could write.
Conventions stifle them.
They are always longing to get away—Away from It All!
—I wish to Heaven they would.
And then there are those who are always in Trouble.
Always.
Usually they have Husband-trouble.
They are Wronged.
They are the women whom nobody—understands.
They wear faint, wistful smiles.
And, when spoken to, they start.
They begin by saying they must suffer in silence.
No one will ever know—
And then they go into details.
Then there are the Well-Informed ones.
They are pests.
They know everything on earth
And will tell you about it gladly.
They feel it their mission to correct wrong impressions
They know Dates and Middle names.
They absolutely ooze Current Events.
Oh, how they bore me.
There are the ones who simply cannot Fathom
Why all the men are mad about them.
They say they've tried and tried.
They tell you about someone's husband;
What he said
And how he looked when he said it.
And then they sigh and ask,
"My dear, what is there about me?"
—Don't you hate them?
There are the unfailingly Cheerful ones.
They are usually unmarried.
They are always busy making little Gifts
And planning little surprises.
They tell me to be, like them, always looking on the Bright Side.
They ask me what they would do without their sense of humor?
I sometimes yearn to kill them.
Any jury would acquit me.
I hate Women;
They get on my nerves.

IDYL

Think of the things that can never come true—
  Save in the shadowy country of dreams.
Think of what might be, for me and for you,
  Could we but shatter the world's sorry schemes.
Think of our own little vine-covered nest;
  Each day, at sunset, I'd wait for you there,
Down by the gate, in the glow of the west,
  Dressed all in white, with a rose in my hair.
Think of a chair, softly-cushioned and wide;
  Think of a hearth, where the red firelight dies;
Think of me sitting there, close by your side,
  Reading the stories writ deep in your eyes.
Think of the years, like an unending song,
  Think of a quiet we never have known.
While, all forgotten, the world rolls along,
  Think of us two, in a world of our own.
Now that you've thought of it seriously—
Isn't it great that it never can be?

SONG OF A HOPEFUL HEART

Oh, time of our lyrical laughter,
  Oh, pageant of glittering days,
The glamourous Aprils—and after,
  The delicate, mystical Mays!
So gallant and sudden and heedless,
  So gayly defiant of regret,
We smiled as we thought how 'twas needless
  To vow that we'd never forget
Those galloping days of our blisses,
  Alike, and yet never the same—
But you have forgotten my kisses,
  And I have forgotten your name.
Oh, always there's one who remembers,
  Who brightens, with memories' glow,
The ponderous, sullen Novembers,
  The colorless Winters, and slow.
Why linger in shadowy sadness?
  Why drape us in lavender hue?
The red of that magical madness
  Our hearts could be wearing anew.
It's only the coward who misses
  The glorious rush of the game—
Try hard to remember my kisses;
  I guess I can think of your name.

LOVE SONG

Suppose we two were cast away
  On some deserted strand,
Where in the breeze the palm trees sway—
  A sunlit wonderland;
Where never human footstep fell,
  Where tropic love-birds woo,
Like Eve and Adam we could dwell,
  In paradise, for two.
Would you, I wonder, tire of me
  As sunny days went by,
And would you welcome joyously
  A streamer?…So would I.
Suppose we sought bucolic ways
  And led the simple life,
Away—as runs the happy phrase—
  From cities' toil and strife.
There you and I could live alone,
  And share our hopes and fears.
A small-town Darby and his Joan,
  We'd face the quiet years.
I wonder, would you ever learn
  My charms could pall on you,
And would you let your fancy turn
  To others?…I would, too.
Between us two (suppose once more)
  Had rolled the bounding deep;
You journeyed to a foreign shore,
  And left me here to weep.
I wonder if you'd be the same,
  Though we were far apart,
And if you'd always bear my name
  Engraved upon your heart.
Or would you bask in other smiles,
  And, charmed by novelty,
Forget the one so many miles
  Away?…That goes for me.

LYRIC

How the arrogant iris would wither and fade
  If the soft summer dew never fell.
And the timid arbutus that hides in the shade
  Would no longer make fragrant the dell!
All the silver-flecked fishes would languish and die
  Were it not for the foam-spangled streams;
Little brooks could not flow, without rain from the sky;
  Nor a poet get on without dreams.
If the blossoms refused their pale honey, the bees
  Must in idleness hunger and pine;
While the moss cannot live, when it's torn from the trees,
  Nor the waxen-globed mistletoe twine.
Were it not for the sunshine, the birds wouldn't sing,
  And the heavens would never be blue.
But of all Nature's works, the most wonderful thing
  Is how well I get on without you.

More information about Dorothy Parker from Wikipedia




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