Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dorothy Parker, Part 1

As some visitors to this blog may be aware, I’m a longtime admirer of the poetry and prose of Dorothy Parker, which for me - and a great many others, I’m sure - gain in resonance with every passing year. Alternatively comedic and tragic, cruel and kind, cynical and sentimental, bitter and sweet, despairing and hopeful, they are filled with contradictions – but almost invariably razor-sharp. In one form or another, her verse and short stories have infiltrated my own work many times, both directly and indirectly. Here are some examples:

One Perfect Rose

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.


My land is bare of chattering folk;

The clouds are low along the ridges,

And sweet's the air with curly smoke

From all my burning bridges.

Words of Comfort to be Scratched on a Mirror

Helen of Troy had a wandering glance;
Sappho's restriction was only the sky;
Ninon was ever the chatter of France;
But oh, what a good girl am I!


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 brigs 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.

Images from top:

Dorothy Parker, 1939 (Culver Pictures)
Woman on a Bridge, 1996, linocut, hand coloured, 46 x 30 cm
All My Burning Bridges, 1996, linocut, 46 x 31 xm
Powder Room, 1996, colour linocut, 61 x 46 cm
Untitled, 1995, woodcut with chine colle, 61 x 46 cm