Saturday, September 3, 2011

On Being a Woman, by Dorothy Parker

On Being a Woman

"Why is it, when I am in Rome,
I'd give an eye to be at home,
But when on native earth I be,
My soul is sick for Italy?

And why with you, my love, my lord,
Am I spectacularly bored,
Yet do you up and leave me-- then
I scream to have you back again?"

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

This woman just got it. Perennially unlucky in love, she made light of her disappointment, never taking herself too seriously, and made us all laugh along with her. Short, sweet, with clever rhymes and immaculate meter, her poems are unmistakable, tripping of the tongue with a delightful cadence. Dorothy was sarcastic, witty and cynical to the extreme, but with such a charming touch of wistfulness and playfulness, you can't help but love her. And I can't imagine there's a woman alive who couldn't identify with her.

Here is one of my favorites:

"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 Romania."

Or how about this one?

"Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I'd been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye."

When asked at the Algonquin Round Table to discuss Horticulture, she declared:
"You can lead a whore-to-culture, but you can't make her think."

Lastly, I present the very first Dorothy quote I ever heard. When I was growing up, our fantastic next door neighbor loved to quote it. I never knew who had said it until a close friend introduced me to the inimitable Ms. Parker. I advise you memorize it; it'll make you the hit of any party:

"I love a martini,
but two at the most:
with three I'm under the table,
with four I'm under my host."

 All quotations by Dorothy Parker
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