Dorothy Parker

A Well Worn Story

In April, in April,
My one love came along,
And I ran the slope of my high hill
To follow a thread of song.
His eyes were hard as porphyry
With looking on cruel lands;
His voice went slipping over me
Like terrible silver hands.
Together we trod the secret lane
And walked the muttering town;
I wore my heart like a wet, red stain
On the breast of a velvet gown.
In April, in April,
My love went whistling by,
And I stumbled here to my high hill
Along the way of a lie.
Now what should I do in this place
But sit and count the chimes,
And splash cold water on my face,
And spoil a page with rhymes?


Always I knew it could not last
(Gathering clouds, and the snowflakes flying);
Now it is part of the golden past
(Darkening skies, and the night-wind sighing).
It is but cowardice to pretend.
Cover with ashes our love's cold crater;
Always I knew that it had to end,
Sooner or later.
Always I knew it would come like this
(Pattering rain and the grasses springing);
Sweeter to you is a new love's kiss
(Flickering sunshine, and the young birds singing).
Gone are the raptures that once we knew,
Now you are finding a new joy greater--
Well, I'll be doing the same thing, too,
Sooner or later.

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 in 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 lead but 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!


Little things that no one needs,
Little things to joke about_
Little landscapes done in beads,
Little morals, woven out.
Little wreaths of gilded grass,
Little sprigs of whittled oak,
Bottled painfully in glass_
These are made by lonely folk.
Lonely folk have lines of days,
Long and faltering and thin;
Therefore_little wax bouquets,
Prayers cut upon a pin,
Little maps of pinkish lands,
Little charts of curly seas,
Little plats of linen strands,
Little verses, such as these.


Into love and out again,
Thus I went, and thus I go.
Spare your voice, and hold your pen_
Well and bitterly I know
All the songs were ever sung,
All the words were ever said.
Could it be, when I was young,
Someone dropped me on my head?


There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine.
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
And art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop.
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle_
Would you kindly direct me to hell?


Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea,
And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
And I am Marie of Roumania.

A Portrait

Because my love is quick to come go,
A little here, and then a little there,
What use are any words of mine to swear
My heart is stubborn, and my spirit slow
Of weathering the drip and drive of woe?
What is my oath, when you have but to bare
My little, easy loves, and I can dare
Only to shrug and answer, "They are so"?
You do not know how heavy a heart it is
That hangs about my neck_a heavy stone,
Cut with a birth, a death, a bridal day.
Each time I love, I find it still my own,
Who take it now to that lad, now to this,
Seeking to give the wretched thing away.

Symptom Recital

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.

The Leal

The friends I have made have slipped and strayed,
And who's the one that cares?
A trifling lot and best forgot -
And that's my tale, and theirs.
Then if my friendships breaks and bend,
There's little need to cry
the while I know that every foe
Is faithful till I die.

Little words

When you are gone, there is no bloom nor leaf,
Nor singing sea at night, nor silver birds,
And I can only stare and shape my grief
In little words.
I cannot conjure loveliness to drown
The bitter woe that racks my cords apart;
The weary pen that sets my sorrow down
Feeds at my heart.
There is no mercy in the shifting year;
No beauty wraps me tenderly about.
I turn to little words_so you, my dear,
Can spell them out.


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.

Day Dreams

We'd build a little bungalow
If you and I were one,
And carefully we'd plan it so
We'd get the morning sun.
I'd rise each morn at rosy dawn
And bustle gaily down;
In evening's cool, you'd spray the lawn
When you came back from town.
A little cook-book I should buy,
Your dishes I'd prepare,
And though they came out black and dry,
I know you wouldn't care.
How valiantly I'd strive to learn,
Assured you'd not complain!
And if my finger I should burn,
You'd kiss away the pain.
I'd buy a little scrubbing-brush
And beautify the floors;
I'd warble gaily as a thrush
About my little chores.
But though I'd cook and sew and scrub,
A higher life I'd find:
I'd join a little women's club
And cultivate my mind.
If you and I were one, my dear,
A higher life we'd lead;
We'd travel on, from year to year,
At no increase of speed.
Ah, clear to me the vision of
The things that we should do!
And so I think it best, my love,
To string along as two.

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Sonny (Sundeep Dougal) Holden Caulfield, New Delhi, INDIA