Social Note – Dorothy Parker

Lady, lady, should you meet
One whose ways are all discreet,
One who murmurs that his wife
Is the lodestar of his life,
One who keeps assuring you
That he never was untrue,
Never loved another one . . .
Lady, lady, better run!

Rainy Night – Dorothy Parker

Ghosts of all my lovely sins,
Who attend too well my pillow,
Gay the wanton rain begins;
Hide the limp and tearful willow.

Turn aside your eyes and ears,
Trail away your robes of sorrow,
You shall have my further years-
You shall walk with me tomorrow.

I am sister to the rain;
Fey and sudden and unholy,
Petulant at the windowpane,
Quickly lost, remembered slowly.

I have lived with shades, a shade;
I am hung with graveyard flowers.
Let me be tonight arrayed
In the silver of the showers.

Every fragile thing shall rust;
When another April passes
I may be a furry dust,
Sifting through the brittle grasses.

All sweet sins shall be forgot;
Who will live to tell their siring?
Hear me now, nor let me rot
Wistful still, and still aspiring.

Ghosts of dear temptations, heed;
I am frail, be you forgiving.
See you not that I have need
To be living with the living?

Sail, tonight, the Styx’s breast;
Glide among the dim processions
Of the exquisite unblest,
Spirits of my shared transgressions,

Roam with young Persephone.
Plucking poppies for your slumber . . .
With the morrow, there shall be
One more wraith among your number.

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.

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.