10 Dorothy Parker Poems For A Perfectly Bitter Valentine’s Day
If you're looking forward to Valentine's Day this year, with all of its chalk flavored candy and its impassioned Instagram posts and its lies, that's fine. You go have fun with your novelty champagne-based cocktails. But if you're not exactly looking forward to February the 14th because love is a myth and your heart is a dried up husk... then I got you these Dorothy Parker poems.
Dorothy, you see, is patron saint of cynical young women (and anyone else adept at falling in and out of love with all the wrong people). She's an acerbic, acid-tongued poet from the '30s who somehow understands the existential pain of waiting for a text from your crush. She's the author who coined the phrase, "What fresh hell is this?" She's the drunk brunch companion of your dreams. And most importantly, she will never, ever try to make you feel better about your heartbreak.
So if you're looking for wistful verses about how love is out there for all of us, look somewhere else. If you're looking to wallow, then here is a taste of Dorothy's best work, for an especially bitter Valentine's Day. Let's read them together and make appletinis, and then we can stalk our exes on various social media platforms.
1. 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
They hail you as their morning star
Because you are the way you are.
If you return the sentiment,
They'll try to make you different;
And once they have you, safe and sound,
They want to change you all around.
Your moods and ways they put a curse on;
They'd make of you another person.
They cannot let you go your gait;
They influence and educate.
They'd alter all that they admired.
They make me sick, they make me tired.
3. Song of One of the Girls
Here in my heart I am Helen;
I'm Aspasia and Hero, at least.
I'm Judith, and Jael, and Madame de Stael;
I'm Salome, moon of the East.
Here in my soul I am Sappho;
Lady Hamilton am I, as well.
In me Recamier vies with Kitty O'Shea,
With Dido, and Eve, and poor Nell.
I'm of the glamorous ladies
At whose beckoning history shook.
But you are a man, and see only my pan,
So I stay at home with a book.
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?
5. Indian Summer
In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.
But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!
6. Unfortunate Coincidence
By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
7. The Lady's Reward
Lady, lady, never start
Conversation toward your heart;
Keep your pretty words serene;
Never murmur what you mean.
Show yourself, by word and look,
Swift and shallow as a brook.
Be as cool and quick to go
As a drop of April snow;
Be as delicate and gay
As a cherry flower in May.
Lady, lady, never speak
Of the tears that burn your cheek—
She will never win him, whose
Words had shown she feared to lose.
Be you wise and never sad,
You will get your lovely lad.
Never serious be, nor true,
And your wish will come to you—
And if that makes you happy, kid,
You'll be the first it ever did.
8. 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.
Some men break your heart in two,
Some men fawn and flatter,
Some men never look at you;
And that cleans up the matter.
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.