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Three poems for August by Dorothy Parker

With an acidic wit and keen eye for flawed humanity

  • August
  • When my eyes are weeds,
  • And my lips are petals, spinning
  • Down the wind that has beginning
  • Where the crumpled beeches start
  • In a fringe of salty reeds;
  • When my arms are elder-bushes,
  • And the rangy lilac pushes
  • Upward, upward through my heart;
  • Summer, do your worst!
  • Light your tinsel moon, and call on
  • Your performing stars to fall on
  • Headlong through your paper sky;
  • Nevermore shall I be cursed
  • By a flushed and amorous slattern,
  • With her dusty laces’ pattern
  • Trailing, as she straggles by.
  • Garden-Spot
  • God’s acre was her garden-spot, she said;
  • She sat there often, of the Summer days,
  • Little and slim and sweet, among the dead,
  • Her hair a fable in the leveled rays.
  • She turned the fading wreath, the rusted cross,
  • And knelt to coax about the wiry stem.
  • I see her gentle fingers on the moss
  • Now it is anguish to remember them.
  • And once I saw her weeping, when she rose
  • And walked a way and turned to look around —
  • The quick and envious tears of one that knows
  • She shall not lie in consecrated ground.
  • Fair Weather
  • This level reach of blue is not my sea;
  • Here are sweet waters, pretty in the sun,
  • Whose quiet ripples meet obediently
  • A marked and measured line, one after one.
  • This is no sea of mine that humbly laves
  • Untroubled sands, spread glittering and warm.
  • I have a need of wilder, crueler waves;
  • They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.
  • So let a love beat over me again,
  • Loosing its million desperate breakers wide;
  • Sudden and terrible to rise and wane;
  • Roaring the heavens apart; a reckless tide
  • That casts upon the heart, as it recedes,
  • Splinters and spars and dripping, salty weeds
Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was an American poet and fiction writer, a critic and, perhaps most famously, a satirist and founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, a literary club of fellow writers who targeted their contemporaries (and one another) with an acidic wit and keen eye for flawed humanity. Her poetry, while sometimes witty as well (“Men seldom make passes/At women with glasses.”), revealed a serious side to her literary efforts.

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  • August
  • When my eyes are weeds,
  • And my lips are petals, spinning
  • Down the wind that has beginning
  • Where the crumpled beeches start
  • In a fringe of salty reeds;
  • When my arms are elder-bushes,
  • And the rangy lilac pushes
  • Upward, upward through my heart;
  • Summer, do your worst!
  • Light your tinsel moon, and call on
  • Your performing stars to fall on
  • Headlong through your paper sky;
  • Nevermore shall I be cursed
  • By a flushed and amorous slattern,
  • With her dusty laces’ pattern
  • Trailing, as she straggles by.
  • Garden-Spot
  • God’s acre was her garden-spot, she said;
  • She sat there often, of the Summer days,
  • Little and slim and sweet, among the dead,
  • Her hair a fable in the leveled rays.
  • She turned the fading wreath, the rusted cross,
  • And knelt to coax about the wiry stem.
  • I see her gentle fingers on the moss
  • Now it is anguish to remember them.
  • And once I saw her weeping, when she rose
  • And walked a way and turned to look around —
  • The quick and envious tears of one that knows
  • She shall not lie in consecrated ground.
  • Fair Weather
  • This level reach of blue is not my sea;
  • Here are sweet waters, pretty in the sun,
  • Whose quiet ripples meet obediently
  • A marked and measured line, one after one.
  • This is no sea of mine that humbly laves
  • Untroubled sands, spread glittering and warm.
  • I have a need of wilder, crueler waves;
  • They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.
  • So let a love beat over me again,
  • Loosing its million desperate breakers wide;
  • Sudden and terrible to rise and wane;
  • Roaring the heavens apart; a reckless tide
  • That casts upon the heart, as it recedes,
  • Splinters and spars and dripping, salty weeds
Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was an American poet and fiction writer, a critic and, perhaps most famously, a satirist and founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, a literary club of fellow writers who targeted their contemporaries (and one another) with an acidic wit and keen eye for flawed humanity. Her poetry, while sometimes witty as well (“Men seldom make passes/At women with glasses.”), revealed a serious side to her literary efforts.

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