Now available as a stand-alone edition, the famous humorist’s debut collection—a runaway bestseller in 1926—ranges from lighthearted self-deprecation to acid-tongued satire, all the while gleefully puncturing sentimental clichés about relations between men and women.

Known as the wittiest woman in America and a founder of the fabled Algonquin Round Table, Dorothy Parker was also one of the Jazz Age’s most beloved poets. Her verbal dexterity and cynical humor were on full display in the many poems she published in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Life and collected in her first book in 1926. The poems in Enough Rope range from lighthearted self-deprecation to acid-tongued satire, all the while gleefully puncturing sentimental clichés about the relations between men and women.
 
Unfortunate Coincidence
By the time you swear you’re his,
   Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
   Infinite, undying—
Lady, make a note of this:
   One of you is lying.
THRENODY

Lilacs blossom just as sweet
Now my heart is shattered.
If I bowled it down the street,
Who’s to say it mattered?
If there’s one that rode away
What would I be missing?
Lips that taste of tears, they say,
Are the best for kissing.

Eyes that watch the morning star
Seem a little brighter;
Arms held out to darkness are
Usually whiter.
Shall I bar the strolling guest,
Bind my brow with willow,
When, they say, the empty breast
Is the softer pillow?

That a heart falls tinkling down,
Never think it ceases.
Every likely lad in town
Gathers up the pieces.
If there’s one gone whistling by
Would I let it grieve me?
Let him wonder if I lie;
Let him half believe me.


THE SMALL HOURS

No more my little song comes back;
And now of nights I lay
My head on down, to watch the black
And wait the unfailing gray.
Oh, sad are winter nights, and slow;
And sad’s a song that’s dumb;
And sad it is to lie and know
Another dawn will come.


THE FALSE FRIENDS

They laid their hands upon my head,
They stroked my cheek and brow;
And time could heal a hurt, they said,
And time could dim a vow.

And they were pitiful and mild
Who whispered to me then,
“The heart that breaks in April, child,
Will mend in May again.”

Oh, many a mended heart they knew,
So old they were, and wise.
And little did they have to do
To come to me with lies!

Who flings me silly talk of May
Shall meet a bitter soul;
For June was nearly spent away
Before my heart was whole.


THE TRIFLER

Death’s the lover that I’d be taking;
Wild and fickle and fierce is he.
Small’s his care if my heart be breaking—
Gay young Death would have none of me.

Hear them clack of my haste to greet him!
No one other my mouth had kissed.
I had dressed me in silk to meet him—
False young Death would not hold the tryst.

Slow’s the blood that was quick and stormy,
Smooth and cold is the bridal bed;
I must wait till he whistles for me—
Proud young Death would not turn his head.

I must wait till my breast is wilted,
I must wait till my back is bowed,
I must rock in the corner, jilted,—
Death went galloping down the road.

Gone’s my heart with a trifling rover.
Fine he was in the game he played—
Kissed, and promised, and threw me over,
And rode away with a prettier maid.


A VERY SHORT SONG

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad—
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.
Dorothy Parker was born in West End, New Jersey, in 1893 and grew up in New York, attending a Catholic convent school and Miss Dana's School in Morristown, New Jersey. In 1916 she sold some of her poetry to the editor of Vogue and was subsequently given an editorial position at the magazine, writing captions for fashion photographs and drawings. Parker then became a drama critic at Vanity Fair and the central figure of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table. Famous for her spoken wit, she showed the same trenchant commentary in her book reviews for The New Yorker and Esquire and in her poems and sketches. Her collections of poems include Not So Deep as a Well and Enough Rope, which became a bestseller, and her collections of stories include Here Lies. Parker also collaborated with Elmer Rice on a play, Close Harmony, and with Arnaud d'Usseau on the play The Ladies of the Corridor. She had two Broadway productions written about her and was portrayed as a character in a third. Her cynicism and the concentration of her judgements were famous, and she has been closely associated with modern urbane humor. Her first husband was Edwin Pond Parker II, and although they were divorced some years later, she continued to use his name, which she much preferred to her own of Rothschild. Parker's second husband was actor-writer Alan Campbell. They went to Hollywood as a writing team and had a tempestuous marriage until his death in 1963, when she returned to New York. Parker died in 1967. View titles by Dorothy Parker

About

Now available as a stand-alone edition, the famous humorist’s debut collection—a runaway bestseller in 1926—ranges from lighthearted self-deprecation to acid-tongued satire, all the while gleefully puncturing sentimental clichés about relations between men and women.

Known as the wittiest woman in America and a founder of the fabled Algonquin Round Table, Dorothy Parker was also one of the Jazz Age’s most beloved poets. Her verbal dexterity and cynical humor were on full display in the many poems she published in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Life and collected in her first book in 1926. The poems in Enough Rope range from lighthearted self-deprecation to acid-tongued satire, all the while gleefully puncturing sentimental clichés about the relations between men and women.
 
Unfortunate Coincidence
By the time you swear you’re his,
   Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
   Infinite, undying—
Lady, make a note of this:
   One of you is lying.

Excerpt

THRENODY

Lilacs blossom just as sweet
Now my heart is shattered.
If I bowled it down the street,
Who’s to say it mattered?
If there’s one that rode away
What would I be missing?
Lips that taste of tears, they say,
Are the best for kissing.

Eyes that watch the morning star
Seem a little brighter;
Arms held out to darkness are
Usually whiter.
Shall I bar the strolling guest,
Bind my brow with willow,
When, they say, the empty breast
Is the softer pillow?

That a heart falls tinkling down,
Never think it ceases.
Every likely lad in town
Gathers up the pieces.
If there’s one gone whistling by
Would I let it grieve me?
Let him wonder if I lie;
Let him half believe me.


THE SMALL HOURS

No more my little song comes back;
And now of nights I lay
My head on down, to watch the black
And wait the unfailing gray.
Oh, sad are winter nights, and slow;
And sad’s a song that’s dumb;
And sad it is to lie and know
Another dawn will come.


THE FALSE FRIENDS

They laid their hands upon my head,
They stroked my cheek and brow;
And time could heal a hurt, they said,
And time could dim a vow.

And they were pitiful and mild
Who whispered to me then,
“The heart that breaks in April, child,
Will mend in May again.”

Oh, many a mended heart they knew,
So old they were, and wise.
And little did they have to do
To come to me with lies!

Who flings me silly talk of May
Shall meet a bitter soul;
For June was nearly spent away
Before my heart was whole.


THE TRIFLER

Death’s the lover that I’d be taking;
Wild and fickle and fierce is he.
Small’s his care if my heart be breaking—
Gay young Death would have none of me.

Hear them clack of my haste to greet him!
No one other my mouth had kissed.
I had dressed me in silk to meet him—
False young Death would not hold the tryst.

Slow’s the blood that was quick and stormy,
Smooth and cold is the bridal bed;
I must wait till he whistles for me—
Proud young Death would not turn his head.

I must wait till my breast is wilted,
I must wait till my back is bowed,
I must rock in the corner, jilted,—
Death went galloping down the road.

Gone’s my heart with a trifling rover.
Fine he was in the game he played—
Kissed, and promised, and threw me over,
And rode away with a prettier maid.


A VERY SHORT SONG

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad—
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

Author

Dorothy Parker was born in West End, New Jersey, in 1893 and grew up in New York, attending a Catholic convent school and Miss Dana's School in Morristown, New Jersey. In 1916 she sold some of her poetry to the editor of Vogue and was subsequently given an editorial position at the magazine, writing captions for fashion photographs and drawings. Parker then became a drama critic at Vanity Fair and the central figure of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table. Famous for her spoken wit, she showed the same trenchant commentary in her book reviews for The New Yorker and Esquire and in her poems and sketches. Her collections of poems include Not So Deep as a Well and Enough Rope, which became a bestseller, and her collections of stories include Here Lies. Parker also collaborated with Elmer Rice on a play, Close Harmony, and with Arnaud d'Usseau on the play The Ladies of the Corridor. She had two Broadway productions written about her and was portrayed as a character in a third. Her cynicism and the concentration of her judgements were famous, and she has been closely associated with modern urbane humor. Her first husband was Edwin Pond Parker II, and although they were divorced some years later, she continued to use his name, which she much preferred to her own of Rothschild. Parker's second husband was actor-writer Alan Campbell. They went to Hollywood as a writing team and had a tempestuous marriage until his death in 1963, when she returned to New York. Parker died in 1967. View titles by Dorothy Parker

Books for Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Every May we celebrate the rich history and culture of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Browse a curated selection of fiction and nonfiction books by AANHPI creators that we think your students will love. Find our full collection of titles for Higher Education here.

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