Liebestod – Dorothy Parker

When I was bold, when I was bold-

And that’s a hundred years!-

Oh, never I thought my breast could hold

The terrible weight of tears.
I said: “Now some be dolorous;

I hear them wail and sigh,

And if it be Love that play them thus,

Then never a love will I.”
I said: “I see them rack and rue,

I see them wring and ache,

And little I’ll crack my heart in two

With little the heart can break.”
When I was gay, when I was gay-

It’s ninety years and nine!-

Oh, never I thought that Death could lay

His terrible hand in mine.
I said: “He plies his trade among

The musty and infirm;

A body so hard and bright and young

Could never be meat for worm.”
“I see him dull their eyes,” I said,

“And still their rattling breath.

And how under God could I be dead

That never was meant for Death?”
But Love came by, to quench my sleep,

And here’s my sundered heart;

And bitter’s my woe, and black, and deep,

And little I guessed a part.
Yet this there is to cool my breast,

And this to ease my spell;

Now if I were Love’s, like all the rest,

Then can I be Death’s, as well.
And he shall have me, sworn and bound,

And I’ll be done with Love.

And better I’ll be below the ground

Than ever I’ll be above. 


Landscape – Dorothy Parker

Now this must be the sweetest place

From here to heaven’s end;

The field is white and flowering lace,

The birches leap and bend,

The hills, beneath the roving sun,

From green to purple pass,

And little, trifling breezes run

Their fingers through the grass.

So good it is, so gay it is,

So calm it is, and pure.

A one whose eyes may look on this

Must be the happier, sure.

But me- I see it flat and gray

And blurred with misery,

Because a lad a mile away

Has little need of me. 

One Perfect Rose – Dorothy Parker

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. 

A Certain Lady – Dorothy Parker

Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head,

 And drink your rushing words with eager lips, 

And paint my mouth for you a fragrant red, 

And trace your brows with tutored finger-tips. 

When you rehearse your list of loves to me, 

Oh, I can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed. 

And you laugh back, nor can you ever see 

The thousand little deaths my heart has died. 

And you believe, so well I know my part, 

That I am gay as morning, light as snow, 

And all the straining things within my heart 

You’ll never know. 
Oh, I can laugh and listen, when we meet, 

And you bring tales of fresh adventurings, — 

Of ladies delicately indiscreet, 

Of lingering hands, and gently whispered things. 

And you are pleased with me, and strive anew 

To sing me sagas of your late delights. 

Thus do you want me — marveling, gay, and true, 

Nor do you see my staring eyes of nights. 

And when, in search of novelty, you stray, 

Oh, I can kiss you blithely as you go …. 

And what goes on, my love, while you’re away, 

You’ll never know. 

A Dream Lies Dead – Dorothy Parker

A dream lies dead here. May you softly go

Before this place, and turn away your eyes, 

Nor seek to know the look of that which dies 

Importuning Life for life. Walk not in woe, 

But, for a little, let your step be slow. 

And, of your mercy, be not sweetly wise 

With words of hope and Spring and tenderer skies. 

A dream lies dead; and this all mourners know: 
Whenever one drifted petal leaves the tree- 

Though white of bloom as it had been before 

And proudly waitful of fecundity- 

One little loveliness can be no more; 

And so must Beauty bow her imperfect head 

Because a dream has joined the wistful dead! 

Poem – Autumn Valentine – Dorothy Parker

In May my heart was breaking- 

Oh, wide the wound, and deep! 

And bitter it beat at waking, 

And sore it split in sleep. 
And when it came November, 

I sought my heart, and sighed, 

“Poor thing, do you remember?” 

“What heart was that?” it cried.