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poems

DOROTHY PARKER


Ballade At Thirty-Five This, no song of an ingenue, This, no ballad of innocence; This, the rhyme of a lady who Followed ever her natural bents. This, a solo of sapience, This, a chantey of sophistry, This, the sum of experiments I loved them until they loved me.
Decked in garments of sable hue, Daubed with ashes of myriad Lents, Wearing shower bouquets of rue, Walk I ever in penitence. Oft I roam, as my heart repents, Through God's acre of memory, Marking stones, in my reverence, "I loved them until they loved me."
Pictures pass me in long review Marching columns of dead events. I was tender and, often, true; Ever a prey to coincidence. Always knew I the consequence; Always saw what the end would be. We're as Nature has made us - hence I loved them until they loved me.
[top] Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom Daily dawns another day; I must up, to make my way. Though I dress and drink and eat, Move my fingers and my feet, Learn a little, here and there, Weep and laugh and sweat and swear, Hear a song, or watch a stage, Leave some words upon a page, Claim a foe, or hail a friend- Bed awaits me at the end. Though I go in pride and strength, I'll come back to bed at length. Though I walk in blinded woe, Back to bed I'm bound to go. High my heart, or bowed my head, All my days but lead to bed. Up, and out, and on; and then Ever back to bed again, Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall- I'm a fool to rise at all! [top] Interview The ladies men admire, I've heard, Would shudder at a wicked word. Their candle gives a single light; They'd rather stay at home at night. They do not keep awake till three, Nor read erotic poetry. They never sanction the impure, Nor recognize an overture. They shrink from powders and from paints. So far, I have had no complaints. [top] One Perfect Rose A single flow'r he sent me, since we met. All tenderly his messenger he chose; Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet- One perfect rose. I knew the language of the floweret; "My fragile leaves," it said, "his heart enclose." Love long has taken for his amulet One perfect rose. Why is it no one ever sent me yet One perfect limousine, do you suppose? Ah no, it's always just my luck to get One perfect rose. [top] Portrait of the Artist Oh, lead me to a quiet cell Where never footfall rankles, And bar the window passing well, And gyve my wrists and ankles. Oh, wrap my eyes with linen fair, With hempen cord go bind me, And, of your mercy, leave me there, Nor tell them where to find me. Oh, lock the portal as you go, And see its bolts be double.... Come back in half an hour or so, And I will be in trouble. [top] Resume Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp. Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live. [top] Song of Perfect Propriety Oh, I should like to ride the seas, A roaring buccaneer; A cutlass banging at my knees, A dirk behind my ear. And when my captives' chains would clank I'd howl with glee and drink, And then fling out the quivering plank And watch the beggars sink. I'd like to straddle gory decks, And dig in laden sands, And know the feel of throbbing necks Between my knotted hands. Oh, I should like to strut and curse Among my blackguard crew.... But I am writing little verse, As little ladies do. Oh, I should like to dance and laugh And pose and preen and sway, And rip the hearts of men in half, And toss the bits away. I'd like to view the reeling years Through unastonished eyes, And dip my finger-tips in tears, And give my smiles for sighs. I'd stroll beyond the ancient bounds, And tap at fastened gates, And hear the prettiest of sound- The clink of shattered fates. My slaves I'd like to bind with thongs That cut and burn and chill.... But I am writing little songs, As little ladies will. [top] The Trifler Death's the lover that I'd be taking; Wild and fickle and fierce is he. Small's his care if my heart be breaking- Gay young Death would have none of me. Hear them clack of my haste to greet him! No one other my mouth had kissed. I had dressed me in silk to meet him- False young Death would not hold the tryst. Slow's the blood that was quick and stormy, Smooth and cold is the bridal bed; I must wait till he whistles for me- Proud young Death would not turn his head. I must wait till my breast is wilted. I must wait till my back is bowed, I must rock in the corner, jilted- Death went galloping down the road. Gone's my heart with a trifling rover. Fine he was in the game he played- Kissed, and promised, and threw me over, And rode away with a prettier maid. [top] Threnody Lilacs blossom just as sweet Now my heart is shattered. If I bowled it down the street, Who's to say it mattered? If there's one that rode away What would I be missing? Lips that taste of tears, they say, Are the best for kissing. Eyes that watch the morning star Seem a little brighter; Arms held out to darkness are Usually whiter. Shall I bar the strolling guest, Bind my brow with willow, When, they say, the empty breast Is the softer pillow? That a heart falls tinkling down, Never think it ceases. Every likely lad in town Gathers up the pieces. If there's one gone whistling by Would I let it grieve me? Let him wonder if I lie; Let him half believe me. [top] Verse for a Certain Dog Such glorious faith as fills your limpid eyes, Dear little friend of mine, I never knew. All-innocent are you, and yet all-wise. (For Heaven's sake, stop worrying that shoe!) You look about, and all you see is fair; This mighty globe was made for you alone. Of all the thunderous ages, you're the heir. (Get off the pillow with that dirty bone!) A skeptic world you face with steady gaze; High in young pride you hold your noble head, Gayly you meet the rush of roaring days. (Must you eat puppy biscuit on the bed?) Lancelike your courage, gleaming swift and strong, Yours the white rapture of a winged soul, Yours is a spirit like a Mayday song. (God help you, if you break the goldfish bowl!) "Whatever is, is good" - your gracious creed. You wear your joy of living like a crown. Love lights your simplest act, your every deed. (Drop it, I tell you- put that kitten down!) You are God's kindliest gift of all - a friend. Your shining loyalty unflecked by doubt, You ask but leave to follow to the end. (Couldn't you wait until I took you out?)
[top] Words of Comfort to Be Scratched on a Mirror
Helen of Troy had a wandering glance; Sappho's restriction was only the sky; Ninon was ever the chatter of France; But oh, what a good girl am I! [top]
©The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
and the Estate of Dorothy Parker. All rights reserved

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