“Parties: A Hymn of Hate” by Dorothy Parkier (1893 – 1967)


Parties: A Hymn of Hate

by DOROTHY PARKER

I hate Parties;
They bring out the worst in me.

There is the Novelty Affair,
Given by the woman
Who is awfully clever at that sort of thing.
Everybody must come in fancy dress;
They are always eleven Old-Fashioned Girls,
And fourteen Hawaiian gentlemen
Wearing the native costume
Of last season’s tennis clothes, with a wreath around the neck.

The hostess introduces a series of clean, home games:
Each participant is given a fair chance
To guess the number of seeds in a cucumber,
Or thread a needle against time,
Or see how many names of wild flowers he knows.
Ice cream in trick formations,
And punch like Volstead used to make
Buoy up the players after the mental strain.
You have to tell the hostess that it’s a riot,
And she says she’ll just die if you don’t come to her next party—
If only a guarantee went with that!

Then there is the Bridge Festival.
The winner is awarded an arts-and-crafts hearth-brush,
And all the rest get garlands of hothouse raspberries.
You cut for partners
And draw the man who wrote the game.
He won’t let bygones be bygones;
After each hand
He starts getting personal about your motives in leading clubs,
And one word frequently leads to another.

At the next table
You have one of those partners
Who says it is nothing but a game, after all.
He trumps your ace
And tries to laugh it off.
And yet they shoot men like Elwell.

There is the Day in the Country;
It seems more like a week.
All the contestants are wedged into automobiles,
And you are allotted the space between two ladies
Who close in on you.
The party gets a nice early start,
Because everybody wants to make a long day of it—
They get their wish.
Everyone contributes a basket of lunch;
Each person has it all figured out
That no one else will think of bringing hard-boiled eggs.

There is intensive picking of dogwood,
And no one is quite sure what poison ivy is like;
They find out the next day.
Things start off with a rush.
Everybody joins in the old songs,
And points out cloud effects,
And puts in a good word for the colour of the grass.

But after the first fifty miles,
Nature doesn’t go over so big,
And singing belongs to the lost arts.
There is a slight spurt on the homestretch,
And everyone exclaims over how beautiful the lights of the city look—
I’ll say they do.

And there is the informal little Dinner Party;
The lowest form of taking nourishment.
The man on your left draws diagrams with a fork,
Illustrating the way he is going to have a new sun-parlour built on;
And the one on your right
Explains how soon business conditions will better, and why.

When the more material part of the evening is over,
You have your choice of listening to the Harry Lauder records,
Or having the hostess hem you in
And show you the snapshots of the baby they took last summer.

Just before you break away,
You mutter something to the host and hostess
About sometime soon you must have them over—
Over your dead body.

I hate Parties;
They bring out the worst in me.

“Rondeau Redoublé (and Scarcely Worth the Trouble, at That)” by Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)


Rondeau Redoublé (and Scarcely Worth the Trouble, at That)

The same to me are sombre days and gay.
      Though joyous dawns the rosy morn, and bright,
Because my dearest love is gone away
      Within my heart is melancholy night.
My heart beats low in loneliness, despite
      That riotous Summer holds the earth in sway.
In cerements my spirit is bedight;
      The same to me are sombre days and gay.
Though breezes in the rippling grasses play,
      And waves dash high and far in glorious might,
I thrill no longer to the sparkling day,
      Though joyous dawns the rosy morn, and bright.
Ungraceful seems to me the swallow’s flight;
      As well might Heaven’s blue be sullen gray;
My soul discerns no beauty in their sight
      Because my dearest love is gone away.
Let roses fling afar their crimson spray,
      And virgin daisies splash the fields with white,
Let bloom the poppy hotly as it may,
      Within my heart is melancholy night.
And this, oh love, my pitiable plight
      Whenever from my circling arms you stray;
This little world of mine has lost its light …
      I hope to God, my dear, that you can say
                                       The same to me.

“Song in a Minor Key” by Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)


Song in a Minor Key

There’s a place I know where the birds swing low,
      And wayward vines go roaming,
Where the lilacs nod, and a marble god
      Is pale, in scented gloaming.
And at sunset there comes a lady fair
      Whose eyes are deep with yearning.
By an old, old gate does the lady wait
      Her own true love’s returning.
But the days go by, and the lilacs die,
      And trembling birds seek cover;
Yet the lady stands, with her long white hands
      Held out to greet her lover.
And it’s there she’ll stay till the shadowy day
      A monument they grave her.
She will always wait by the same old gate, —
      The gate her true love gave her.