Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dorothy Parker - In the American Manner

I stumbled upon this poem by Dorothy Parker the other day:

Poem In The American Manner

I dunno yer highfalutin' words, but here's th' way it seems
When I'm peekin' out th' winder o' my little House o Dreams;
I've been lookin' 'roun' this big ol' world, as bizzy as a hive,
An' I want t' tell ye, neighbor mine, it's good t' be alive.
I've ben settin' here, a-thinkin' hard, an' say, it seems t' me
That this big ol' world is jest about as good as it kin be,
With its starvin' little babies, an' its battles, an' its strikes,
An' its profiteers, an' hold-up men—th' dawggone little tykes!
An' its hungry men that fought fer us, that nobody employs.
An' I think, 'Why, shucks, we're jest a lot o' grown-up little boys!'
An' I settle back, an' light my pipe, an' reach fer Mother's hand,
An' I wouldn't swap my peace o' mind fer nothin' in the land;
Fer this world uv ours, that jest was made fer folks like me an' you
Is a purty good ol' place t' live—say, neighbor, ain't it true?

She was in full sardonic, sarcastic, satiric mode there, under cover of a bit of the good ol' folksy. Though her sentiments were rooted in her own century - the 20th - nothing changes!

Dorothy Parker has always been worth a second look, so here's something I blogged some years ago:

These days Dorothy Parker is remembered most for her witty and cynical poetry. She was not particularly proud of the poems, but they have survived in public memory long after her short stories and other writing has been forgotten. Some of her screenplays have survived. The screenplay of A Star is Born was her work, and nominated for an academy award. Three different versions of the story have been made, and have entertained three different generations. It's a bittersweet tale, the kind she knew well from experience.

Dorothy's poems are mainly reflections of her own disappointments and frustrations. She had a sad childhood, losing both parents at an early age. This shadow followed her throughout her life. Her lovers and spouses only seemed to add to her distress. Dorothy attempted suicide 3 times, eventually took to alcohol, and died alone in a New York hotel, aged 73. The New York Times printed one of its longest ever obituaries as a tribute. She left her estate to Martin Luther King Jnr, though she had never met him, and he had never heard of her! She supported many left-wing causes, civil rights campaigns and at one point joined the communist party, and found herself on the US government's blacklist.

DOROTHY PARKER Born 22 August 1893, West End, New Jersey, at 9.50 PM.

According to a couple of sources on-line Ms Parker's birth time was 9:50 PM, putting the ascendant angle in Taurus. It's said that the ascendant can give clues as to personal appearance. In this case it doesn't. Dorothy Parker is described as fragile looking, doll-like, almost elfin, quite the opposite of the sturdiness of Taurus. From what I've read about her personality, Taurus seems to have been well-eclipsed by Virgo and Gemini.

The Sun had just passed into Virgo, at 00 degree when Dorothy Parker was born. There are 2 other planets at 00 degree: Venus at 00 Libra, and Jupiter at 00 Gemini. Some astrologers consider that the first and last degrees of a sign carry more of the "pure essence" of it, which could be of some significance here, especially in the case of Virgo and Gemini. Dorothy's legendary sharp tongue, naturally critical and acidic attitudes are typically Virgoan. The two signs, Virgo and Gemini, both ruled by Mercury, provide her writer's "signature". It was as though the Sun and Jupiter had struggled to get into their proper places just in time for the birth - or she had waited to emerge until they were properly placed!

Sun is conjunct Mars - novelist Sinclair Lewis had Sun conjunct Mars too (he who said "When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross"): two writers of the same generation who were not averse to expressing controversial views. Writers with a fighting (Mars) spirit! Sun in Virgo, Mercury in Leo are in mutual reception in Dorothy's chart too (each lay in the sign of the other's rulership), which adds even more emphasis to the astrological picture, showing a born writer.

Moon in Capricorn and Sun/Mars in Virgo, both in Earth signs forming a wide harmonious trine. This I find somewhat surprising. She doesn't seem to have been the solid, stable Earthy personality it indicates. However, Moon is in challenging square aspect to Saturn in Airy Libra, and Sun is square to Jupiter in Airy Gemini. Two Airy challenges stirring up dust! Without these square aspects people might never have remembered the name and personality of Dorothy Parker.

One of her best-remembered darkly cynical poems:


There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle ---
Would you kindly direct me to hell?

Her self-chosen epitaph: "Excuse my dust."


Wisewebwoman said...

I've always been a fan. Brilliant woman.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ Me too - not sure how I discovered her originally, back in England many moons ago - but am so glad I did. :-)