I discovered Dorothy Parker quite by accident. It all started with the biography drama Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, which I watched with my parents on our black and white TV as a teenager. I was instantly transported into the glamorous and dangerous world of the 1920s. But beyond the thrill of drinking during prohibition or the fabulous glitzy flapper gowns, it was Dorothy Parker’s witty and wry words that caught my attention. I immediately went to the bookstore and bought her poetry anthology, which has since been my standard go-to book after every break up. I adore her ability to portray the utter misery of being in love with a sarcastic, nonchalant melancholy. She is also a feminist icon for me. As a writer and member of the literary elite, she held her own in a male dominated world. Here are a few of her poems.
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live
I do not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I’d be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men….
I’m due to fall in love again.
A Very Short Song
Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad-
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.
Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.