Dorothy Parker Poetry: American Poets Analysis
Dorothy Parker’s slight reputation as a poet rests on three slender volumes of verse with funereal titles: Enough Rope, Sunset Gun, and Death and Taxes—collected in 1936 with five additional poems in Not So Deep as a Well. Although her poems on the whole are highly restricted in scope and depth, her poetic techniques became somewhat more sophisticated and more effectively controlled during the decade when these books were published.
The major motifs of Parker’s poems are love, loneliness, and death. Loneliness and death, however, are usually variations on the theme of romantic love—exploited or exploitative, betrayed, feigned, unrequited, abandoned, and lost. Parker finds the relations between men and women disagreeable and duplicitous: “Scratch a lover and find a foe.” In Parker’s limited poetic world, women as epitomized by the narrative persona are doomed to perpetual emotional dependence on men, whose indifference, fickleness, and callousness drives them to the despair implied in the books’ macabre titles. Love relationships, so fleeting and superficial, are based on appearance (“A curly mouth . . . long, tapered limbs”) and “dust-bound trivia” (“The Searched Soul”) that foreordain their failure. Lovers kiss—and invariably tell (“A Certain Lady”). If they swear that their passion is “infinite, undying,” one or both are bound to be lying (“Unfortunate Coincidence”)....
(The entire section is 1007 words.)
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