Complete Poems, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Best remembered as a member of the Algonquin Round Table, the fabled Jazz Age literay coterie, Dorothy Parker built a reputations as one of the era's most beloved poets.

Parker's satirical wit and sharp-edged humour earned her a reputation as the wittiest woman in America.

This Penguin Classics edition of her poetry - the companion to "Parker's Complete Stories" and introduced by her noted biographer, Marion Meade - is the only complete collection available, showcasing the dry quips and piercingly introspective verse of a writer whose legend continues to fascinate.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464 pages, frontispiece
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Poetry by individual poets
  • ISBN: 9780143106081



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

There is a lot to like here. Parker was witty, intelligent, and skilled with words yet avoided using them in a pretentious way. She spoke up for women and mastered the art of the cynical one-liner.Unfortunately there was a great deal of sadness behind the art; Parker made four suicide attempts while she was in her thirties and her depression is clearly evident in her writing. At times this is playful ("Three be the things I shall have till I die:/Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.", and at other times it's artistic ("There's little in talking or giving,/There's little in water or wine;/This living, this living, this living/Was never a project of mine."), but her cynicism on life and relationships does get repetitive particularly in her early collections, Enough Rope (1926), Sunset Gun (1928), and Death and Taxes (1931).In the "Poems Uncollected by Parker" the themes open up a bit. Some examples: The Lady in Black (about the annoying person who invariably sits behind you at plays or movies), The Far-Sighted Muse (about naive optimism), Hymn of Hate (many, but the one on Reformers was great), Song of the Wilderness (about the city girl just wanting to stay home when her guy goes out to be with nature), Paean (supreme happiness for having lost a pound), When We Were Very Sore (supreme displeasure at having been advertised as America's A.A. Milne), and Letter from Dorothy Parker to Ogden Nash (admiration in the form of imitation). Sometimes ya just want to give her a hug, though undoubtedly if she were around to receive it, her lip would curl and she would deliver a caustic remark. :-)Here are my favorites:Somebody's Song-------------------------"This is what I vow;He shall have my heart to keep;Sweetly will we stir and sleep,All the years, as now.Swift the measured sands may run;Love like this is never done;He and I are welded one:This is what I vow.This is what I pray:Keep him by me tenderly;Keep him sweet in pride of me,Ever and a day;Keep me from the old distress;Let me, for our happiness,Be the one to love the less:This is what I pray.This is what I know:Lover's oaths are thin as rain;Love's a harbinger of pain - Would it were not so!Ever is my heart a-thirst,Ever is my love accurst;He is neither last nor first -This is what I know."The Veteran----------------"When I was young, and bold and strong,Oh right was right, and wrong was wrong!My plume on high, my flag unfurled,I rode away to right the world.'Come out, you dogs, and fight!' said I,And wept there was but once to die.But I am old; and good and badAre woven in a crazy plaid.I sit and say, 'The world is so;And he is wise who lets it go.A battle lost, a battle won -The difference is small, my son.Inertia rides and riddles me;The which is called Philosophy."Oscar Wilde-----------------"If, with the literate, I amimpelled to try an epigram,I never seek to take the credit;We all assume that Oscar said it."Excursion Into Assonance-----------------------------------"I have trodden level sandAlong a reach of gray -From dune-top to sea's end,No breathing thing but me.I have dropped the heavy latchAgainst the rain's tap,And shivered by the fire, to watchThe dark hours slip.The desolate beach, the midnight storm -I dwelt alone with these;But here, within your bended arm,Is loneliness."Penelope-------------"In the pathway of the sun,In the footsteps of the breeze,Where the world and sky are one, He shall ride the silver seas, He shall cut the glittering wave.I shall sit at home, and rock;Rise, to heed a neighbor's knock;Brew my tea, and snip my thread;Bleach the linen for my bed. They will call him brave."General Review of the Sex Situation------------------------------------------------Woman wants monogamy;Man delights in novelty.Love is woman's moon and sun;Man has other forms of fun.Woman lives but in her lord;Count to ten, and man is bored.With this the gist and sum of it,What earthly good can come of it?"

Review by

This, I know, I will most definitely read again and again. Exquisite turn of phrase over and over. Witty, insightful and touching. I admit that I struggled with the poems in the last quarter of the book, but I enjoyed the hell out of the first half, the shorter poems packing the biggest punch. I'm always reluctant to acquaint myself with poetry, so I really appreciate it when a poem can reach out and click with me, which is what I found with the majority of Parker's work. Wonderful.