Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saturday Poet: Dorothy Parker

Some days call for Neruda and his sublime sensuality. This is not one of those days.

Some days call for T.S. Eliot, and his apocalyptic reflections on the modern state or latter-day redemption. This could be one of those days, but it is not yet.

Some days call for Dorothy Parker, and her caustic, "fuck all and especially you" wit. This is one of those days.

Enjoy.

Ballade of a Great Weariness

There's little to have but the things I had,
There's little to bear but the things I bore.
There's nothing to carry and naught to add,
And glory to Heaven, I paid the score.

There's little to do but I did before,
There's little to learn but the things I know;
And this is the sum of a lasting lore:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.

And couldn't it be I was young and mad
If ever my heart on my sleeve I wore?
There's many to claw at a heart unclad,
And little the wonder it ripped and tore.

There's one that'll join in their push and roar,
With stories to jabber, and stones to throw;
He'll fetch you a lesson that costs you sore:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.

So little I'll offer to you, my lad;
It's little in loving I set my store.
There's many a maid would be flushed and glad,
And better you'll knock at a kindlier door.

I'll dig at my lettuce, and sweep my floor,
Forever, forever I'm done with woe.
And happen I'll whistle about my chore,
"Scratch a lover, and find a foe."


A Certain Lady

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.


Dilemma

If I were mild, and I were sweet,
And laid my heart before your feet,
And took my dearest thoughts to you,
And hailed your easy lies as true;
Were I to murmur "Yes," and then
"How true, my dear," and "Yes," again,
And wear my eyes discreetly down,
And tremble whitely at your frown,
And keep my words unquestioning
My love, you'd run like anything!

Should I be frail, and I be mad,
And share my heart with every lad,
But beat my head against the floor
What times you wandered past my door;
Were I to doubt, and I to sneer,
And shriek "Farewell!" and still be here,
And break your joy, and quench your trust-
I should not see you for the dust!


For A Lady Who Must Write Verse:

Unto seventy years and seven,
Hide your double birthright well-
You, that are the brat of Heaven
And the pampered heir to Hell.

Let your rhymes be tinsel treasures,
Strung and seen and thrown aside.
Drill your apt and docile measures
Sternly as you drill your pride.

Show your quick, alarming skill in
Tidy mockeries of art;
Never, never dip your quill in
Ink that rushes from your heart.

When your pain must come to paper,
See it dust, before the day;
Let your night-light curl and caper,
Let it lick the words away.

Never print, poor child, a lay on
Love and tears and anguishing,
Lest a cooled, benignant Phaon
Murmur, "Silly little thing!"

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