Comments 5

Best Comments #3 Dorothy Parker’s love poems

220px-Young_Dorothy_ParkerSo (at last) another of the most interesting/thought-provoking/informative comments to come in over the first twelve months of THE BAZ’s online life. This one is from the reader known as “Parkerfan,’ who, on  Sep 11 last year wrote in to say….

“…I have a question for Marcia (or anyone who can answer)Years ago now, I read I somewhere that a number of Dorothy Parker’s poems in the volume “Death and Taxes” were dedicated to and written for Basil Rathbone in the late 1920s. I have always “known” this but now I can’t find any reference for it, Yet I am absolutely _certain_ I read it, and even annotated my personal copy of D&T with the information (I still have that copy and the annotations are there so I’m not imagining it!) The poems I annotated as having been written for him were “Purposely Ungrammatical Love Song.” “Little Words” and “Grande Passion.” Can you help me with any background to this?…”

Then in a follow-up PF posted the poems she believes were written for him…

“…In answer to the person who asked me to post the relevant poems, here they are (I hope they come out alright). I believe they were all written between 1929 and 1931

When you are gone, there is nor bloom nor leaf,
Nor singing sea at night, nor silver birds;
And I can only stare, and shape my grief
In little words.

I cannot conjure loveliness, to drown
The bitter woe that racks my cords apart.
The weary pen that sets my sorrow down
Feeds at my heart.

There is no mercy in the shifting year,
No beauty wraps me tenderly about.
I turn to little words- so you, my dear,
Can spell them out.

There’s many and many, and not so far,
Is willing to dry my tears away;
There’s many to tell me what you are,
And never a lie to all they say.

It’s little the good to hide my head,
It’s never the use to bar my door;
There’s many as counts the tears I shed,
There’s mourning hearts for my heart’s sore

There’s honester eyes than your blue eyes,
There’s better a mile than such as you.
But when did I say that I was wise,
And when did I hope that you were true?

“If you should break your beauteous nose
My love would perish, I suppose
Or did your hair go limp and straight
I might again be celibate
Were you to slide your step, and peer,
You’d see my little back, I fear;
But lose, my love, your soul and sense
I should not know the difference.”

Is the lady’s recollection correct?  I haven’t found any evidence to suggest so. Or anything to refute it either. Like so much else about the B, it remains to be answered. FWIW Parker was between husbands in the period these poems were written.


  1. Ellen Foley says

    Don’t care if it’s him or not,nice to see her work.Whether they were connected,friendly or whatever,people have a right to read these poems.Think they’re kinda sweet.He deserves attention for who he was.Maybe she adored him from afar,he was a looker!


  2. rosebette says

    Dottie had many lovers, so it could be anyone. I’ve never heard any connection between Dorothy and Basil.


  3. GRETCHEN says

    There’s always ONE thing we can be SURE of…no-matter WHAT the subject, if it’s written-about on THIS blog, Alyssia will be AGAINST IT!!! 🙂


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